Well, this one confused me a lot. There’s been a fair bit of hubbub about the film, so I was expecting a little more.

TWBB is beautifully shot, is raw, is brutual (sometimes subtly so), seems a good portrayal of frontier life in the western USA. But… at two and a half hours makes an epic out of what is in fact a simple, and at times outright dull story.

The frustrating thing is that all the elements are there. But they never really come together to generate any kind of tension or drama at all. OK, so here we go to SPOILERS.

Got it, big spoliers from HERE.

The main character Daniel Plainview (and obvious name for starters) is a prospector for gold (or silver) in whoknowswhere desert country. Then, suddenly, without explanation, he’s digging a well for oil, also in whoknowswhere. But there’s no explanation of the jump. One minute he’s on the ground with a broken ankle (meaning he limps later in the film), the next he’s digging up oil. WTF? Why? How does he know about oil? I thought this guy was a gold (or silver) miner?

Next, he’s taken an orphan from the oil well he’s dug (the father was killed while they worked together), and this established a longer relationship for the film. This means Daniel has a person he can attempt to ruin when he finally degenerates into alcoholism and reclusion in his old age. But the scene where the family finally falls out is just outright boring, is entirely anticipated, carries no tension, and leads no-where.

Like all of the action is kind of “falls out of the sky” without any direct links to anything else in the narrative. Sure, we’ve been expecting it, but…

In short, TWBB seemed to have a lot of promise, and is gorgeous. But like many gorgeous things is ultimately shallow, a little contrived, and leaves you feeling like you just wasted time.

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