A movie about a psycho. A psycho so badly damaged/deranged/lunatic that he can’t love anything, can’t value anything, and drives everyone and everything away from him.
It’s hard to say much more because to say much more infers the ending. When dealing with such a bastard- is there any hope of salvation? Of atonement or forgiveness?
Well, I won’t say. But I’ll go so far as to say that both atonement and forgiveness pre-suppose contrition. And in this man we see no contrition. We see only black madness staring back out at us. We see someone so afraid of failure, so afraid to be nobody, so afraid to be somehow lesser than other men, that he will rampage rough-shod over those weaker than himself just to show to himself that he can.
He’s a devil waiting to be stopped. It’s almost as if he behaves so wickedly just to see if God can stop him. Will God strike him down? Will God do something to punish him, cast him low, make him repent of his sins?
The biblical tone of the title is right. This is a movie about religion. And it’s a movie about charlatans, and morals, and oil, and riches. But most of all, it’s about the chaos that bubbles underneath it all. The chaos that anyone can tap, that anyone can use for their own ends. It’s about violence, and the will to use it, suddenly, calculatedly, as a weapon. It’s about the will to power.
Thomas Anderson is a smart cookie. In Magnolia he was showing us how weak people can be manipulated. He showed us weak people are made weak by other weak people abusing them. He told us the worst crime we can commit is to abuse people weaker than us.
And that’s in this movie too. We see several instances of hatred, bile and rage splintering out of the Day-Lewis character and into other characters, who then go off the rails and splinter into hatred, bile and rage themselves. It is corrosive. The Day-Lewis character is a cancer.
It’s a good movie. Perhaps a great movie. Nowhere near as much fun as Magnolia. It’s dark and suspenseful- chiefly thanks to some powerful and bold suspense music over some of the extended sequences- reminiscent of the use of music over extended tracts in Magnolia, but much bleaker in this movie. Perhaps this is a grown-up version of Magnolia.
It’s certainly bleak. I felt down after watching it. But perhaps, not all bleak. The Day-Lewis character doesn’t manage to destroy everything.