If I am being perfect honest, I must confess that I found this film something of a disappointment. Some movies arrive dragging their baggage behind them, thereby creating overly grand expectations. I would not argue for a minute that Paul Thomas Anderson isn't a fine director with several excellent films on his CV nor that Daniel Day-Lewis isn't a consummate actor. My goodness, he has two best actor Oscars to support this. However for all his role preparation and acting chops, Day-Lewis remains an actor to be admired rather than liked.
In this film as in "Gangs of New York" he plays an anti-hero, a man driven by greed, hatred, and a complete lack of humanity. Struggling oil prospector Daniel Plainview adopts an orphaned child, not for any humane purpose but as a smiling prop to diddle simple landowners out of their oil rights. When an accident leads to the boy's deafness, he is no longer of any use to him. His antagonist throughout is Paul Dano, ably playing two parts -- one of which is a holier-than-thou preacher -- and their final confrontation is really about all that justifies this film's R rating Stateside. However the real problem I have with this movie is its lack of any sort of involving storyline. We see Plainview rise from his scruffy beginnings to a megalomaniac tycoon, but there is little to make us care about his success or his fate. Yes, the cinematography is pretty cool, but this and occasional bravura acting are insufficient to make this film the classic that it might have been