There Will Be Blood at the Dublin International Film Festival

I was lucky enough to have a ticket to last night’s Irish premier of ‘There Will Be Blood’, shown as part of the Dublin International Film Festival in the Savoy cinema.

I won’t review the film – there are plenty of professionals out there to do that – but I will give my opinion of it.

While I purposely avoided reading any reviews or previews of the film, for fear of ruining it, it was impossible to avoid the mountains of praise heaped on the production over the last few weeks. Therefore I went in expecting something very good and was not disappointed. The film is tense and gripping from start to finish and the two and a half hours pretty much flew by, which is always a good sign.

I don’t think it’s perfect, however, and it does suffer from a lack of focus in certain points – without wanting to give anything away I would suggest people look at the film as an account of a man rather than an event and this lack of focus won’t be nearly as noticeable. This quibble is a very minor one overall and the film is very, very enjoyable and one I’m sure I’ll be going to see again; which is something I don’t tend to do.

Whatever about the film, Day-Lewis himself is absolutely fantastic and while I’ve not seen his fellow nominees’ performances I can certainly see why he’s the hot favourite for another Oscar. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character so clearly expressed through body language alone – nevermind through all the other aspects of his performance.

In my mind Paul Dano wasn’t quite as good as some have suggested but he is strong overall. I think this is certainly a breakthrough performance in the sense of the profile it will give him, if not in the sense of him showing the world what he’s capable of.

Towards the end I began to feel as if the film was losing its way but the final 10 minutes or so completely removed that fear. The closing scene manages to be powerful, thrilling, surreal, hilarious and downright shocking all in one and it perfectly wraps up the slow-simmering tension of the entire piece.

After the screening there was a question and answer session with Day-Lewis, which was quite interesting and enjoyable too. This lasted about an hour and all in all we had over four hours of entertainment, which makes the €18 ticket price seem pretty reasonable (and as at least some of that went to charity, even more so).

All in all, you should go to see this.

If there was one thing bad that I could say about the night, it wasn’t relating to the film but to the management of the event by the Savoy/DIFF (what follows is little more than a rant about the many mistakes of the organisers so feel free to skip it).

The first error they made was in ticket allocation, where having given people the opportunity to pick their seats when booking online they then informed customers the seating would be a free-for-all.

What seems to have happened to cause this is straight forward but indicative of bad planning. When originally booking tickets you could pick any seat bar those in the front 10 rows, which were reserved most likely for season ticket holders and guests. The organisers obviously realised soon afterwards that the front few rows in the Savoy’s Screen One, as in most cinemas, aren’t the best ones available and so they decided to change the reserved section to the back 10-or-so rows. This meant that the tickets people had chosen on the website when booking were no longer available to them, and so the ticket numbers were irrelevant.

So as a result of this cock-up ticket holders were told to get there early if they wanted decent seats – this meant that a queue had begun to form about an hour before the film was due to start. As most of the main lobby was sectioned off for the red carpet, there was about 1/4 of the area left for the queue to be formed.

This wouldn’t have been much of a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that the Savoy had decided to keep their other screens open for regular non-festival screenings, as a result of which you had regular punters having to squeeze by the long queue to get to where they were going. With no-one bothering to manage this muddled traffic the place was a bit of a mess at times and what made things worse was the fact that the food shop, which as you may know is in between the doors of the Savoy’s Screen One, was completely blocked off by the queue for TWBB and nearly impossible for other customers to get to.

While the queue was lined up entirely for the doors on the left-hand side, the staff decided to also open the right-hand side doors once they started letting people in. Naturally this meant things would move faster but it also meant there was a bit of a rush to form a queue for the other door too. At first I stayed on the left but with staff urging people to move to the right door I decided to take my chances and do so… however when a few of us did this we were stopped by staff and directed back towards the left-door (as there was now no-one waiting outside the right-door I figured they had suddenly decided to close it). Pissed off I moved back to the queue I was in, only to have staff ask people to move to the right-door again. Having already moved there and been moved back, I decided to stay where I was.

Despite all of this I thankfully got a decent seat in the end but I bet there were plenty of people who booked some of the best seats available and ended up with the worst because of all of this messing.

During the post-film Question and Answer session with Day-Lewis they took questions from the audience. Nice idea but yet again it was marred in bad planning. The guy asking the first question was only handed a microphone towards the end of his question and so had to repeat himself and after that it gradually became more and more of a shouting match. There was no organisation here and basically whoever shouted their question loudest was eventually handed a microphone.

The very last question asked, something about the writers strike, was actually yelled out by a man who jumped to his feet in order to be noticed above the noise of all the others shouting their questions at the stage.

A system for organising audience questions isn’t exactly hard to do and I was disappointed to see the lack of one here. Really those with questions should have been asked to put their hand up, or stand up or something, and then if they were handed a microphone they’d know their question would be next in line… instead people were expected to start asking their questions first and then get the microphone afterwards.

It by no means ruined the night for me, or I doubt for anyone, but it was certainly bad event management in action. Considering the fact that it was an Irish premier of a very high profile film, being attended by its very high profile star as part of an International Film Festival I really expected more from the Savoy or whoever was in charge of this particular event.

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