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Oil, Money, Religion and 'Blood' in California

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

MORNING EDITION and Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan reviews one of those Oscar hopefuls, "There Will Be Blood."

KENNETH TURAN: The main conflict in the film is between Day-Lewis' ruthless oilman Daniel Plainview and a charismatic preacher and faith healer named Eli Sunday played by the quietly effective Paul Dano. Sunday's no more godly than Plainview and they're psychological and even physical combat is savagery itself.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THERE WILL BE BLOOD")

PAUL DANO: (As Eli Sunday) My offer to you is $3,700.

DANIEL DAY: (As Daniel Plainview) What it is that brought you here, sir?

DANO: (As Eli Sunday) The good Lord's guidance.

DAY: (As Daniel Plainview) We have oil here. That's worth something.

DANO: (As Eli Sunday) Do you think there's oil here?

DAY: (As Daniel Plainview) I know there is.

DANO: (As Eli Sunday) Oh, it's very expensive to drill.

DAY: (As Daniel Plainview) Well, our oil sits right up on top of the ground.

DANO: (As Eli Sunday) Doesn't necessarily mean there's anything underneath.

DAY: (As Daniel Plainview) What would you give us for it?

DANO: (As Eli Sunday) I don't know.

DAY: (As Daniel Plainview) Something you don't know.

TURAN: If "There Will Be Blood" has a weakness, it's in the didactic nature of its script. This might be a legacy of novelist Sinclair, a socialist who wrote for political purpose more than dramatic effect. This is a film that loves to go to extremes, and we're fortunate to be along for the ride.

INSKEEP: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.