There Will Be Blood

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
There Will Be Blood Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Slow-moving, somber drama is too mature for kids.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 158 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 22 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 35 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Daniel, the designated "capitalist," is a greedy, calculating man whose disdain for others only grows more pronounced as the film proceeds; the "man of god" is also conniving and power-mad; at last, Daniel's son breaks away, though he does so by competing with his father in business, exactly what his father hates most.

Violence

Early on, Daniel is injured in a mining accident (his leg is pierced by a tool, and there's some blood). Several oil drilling accidents, a couple with explosions and flames; two accidents kill workers (brief explosions, bodies shown) and one injures a young boy (his body is slammed and unconscious, and he's left deaf). An angry Daniel slaps and hits H.W. Eli attacks his father, trying to strangle him. Daniel attacks Eli, kicking and hitting him, dragging him into an oil pool. Murder committed by gunfire (no blood visible). Eli slaps Daniel hard and repeatedly during a baptism. A brutal, bloody murder is committed at the film's end.

Sex

Daniel and Henry visit a brothel -- kissing couples appear in the background.

Language

Language includes "hell," "damn," and "ass."

Consumerism

Some thematic commercialism -- the film follows the building of an oil empire.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Daniel quiets infant H.W. by pouring whiskey into his bottle and, years later, gives him whiskey to make him sleep. Daniel drinks repeatedly, several times to the point of passing out; Henry drinks a few times as well. Daniel smokes cigarettes and a pipe, as do his right-hand man and several background characters.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that most teens probably won't be clamoring to see this slow-moving, somber drama about mature, sometimes abstract themes like capitalism and religion as driving forces in 19th- and early 20th-century America. Violence includes mining and oil well accidents (explosions, flames, a couple of deaths), several fights (hitting and kicking), and a shooting (abrupt and disturbing). The blood referenced in the title comes at the end of the movie, during a protracted, brutal struggle. Some drinking and smoking; language includes "hell" and damn."

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySHollister September 9, 2010

Dark & Pointless

If you are a glass is half empty kind of person, this is the film for you! Yes, it is filmed & acted well, but so what? It's just another (although... Continue reading
Adult Written byjamiesopinion April 9, 2008

I left feeling somewhat sick and disappointed

I guess with this type of movie I was hoping for a little more than what was given. The story line wasn't that great I thought, unless that was part of th... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bydantheman2988 May 11, 2020

OK for 13+ if you can handle some violence.

The main reason this film is rated R is because of the graphic murder at the end of the movie, there is moderate violence at other points in the movie. Other t... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bythepes February 14, 2020

What's the story?

Based on Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel, Oil!, THERE WILL BE BLOOD follows the life of self-described oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) from his earliest days as a miner to his later years as a wealthy, lonely misanthrope. Along the way, he informally adopts H.W. (Dillon Freasier), whom he loves in a strange, desperate way that leads to distress when H.W. eventually grows away from him. Daniel's other primary interaction is with Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), a self-styled preacher who resents Daniel's governance of the land he's bought from Eli's California neighbors. Their conflict increases as each believes himself best suited to organize the community.

Is it any good?

Set against the movie's stark landscape and brilliant orchestration by Jonny Greenwood, the conflict between Daniel and Eli turns simultaneously explosive and subterranean. They embody the forces that shape American culture -- specifically, capitalism and religion. Neither man is "complete," and each feels betrayed by someone introduced as his brother -- in Eli's case, his missing twin, and in Daniel's, the sudden appearance of Henry Brands (Kevin J. O'Connor), who shows up late in the film claiming to be Daniel's half-brother. Even as Daniel and Eli's plots go in different directions, both underline loss and pain that lead to bad decisions and violence.

Beyond the emotional sparks between Eli and Daniel, the film offers stunning visual compositions set against gorgeous desert and wide skies. Following an early oil rig accident, flames appear to leap behind a stoic Daniel as he gazes on his fortune -- one that will both make and ruin him. Subtle exchanges between father and son are built on shared glances that are at once knowing, intimate, and skeptical. This relationship is increasingly complicated, partly by H.W.'s friendship with Eli's sister, and partly by Daniel's increasing rage at the world. At the film's end, there is blood, sticky and odious -- but most effectively, there is also H.W., terrified, trusting, and enduring.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. Is there a clearly defined "good guy" or "bad guy"? Do characters that offer a mix of both qualities more accurately reflect real life? If so, why do you think TV shows and movies don't feature characters like that more often? How are Daniel and Eli both alike and at odds?

Movie details

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