Steven Sheehan’s review published on Letterboxd:
There is Daniel Day Lewis' performance, a standard which has become almost ludicrously normal for the man now. Paul Thomas Anderson's assured writing and direction instils an epic feel within the stripped down surroundings. Then there is the music. The score by Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood will be the first thing that coats you with the thickness of the film’s black atmosphere.
Greenwood's compositional skills have developed over the arc of Radiohead's career, pushed forward after the group dropped their guitars post "OK Computer". His haunting use of strings since then have become a prominent feature of some of their most memorable songs which comes into its own for this soundtrack. A blend of lonely pianos, aching strings and striking percussion that works perfectly in tangent with the shifting moods.
This story of an empire built on the dirt, greed and bloody single mindedness can be addressed to either of its central concerns. The Texas Oil Boom made the state almost Depression-proof as profit soured higher than the gushing chemical it drilled for. Daniel Plainview is a salesman, a pragmatist and a politician, but most of all he is a businessman. He proclaims to hold family values above all else, in a time when kinship reflected your moral fibre. As the drill digs deeper and the pipeline expands, so does his distance away from humanity.
Anderson creates an ambiguity around the identity of Paul and his brother Eli, leaving it for us to decide if they exist separately or as the same person. Either way the lineage of religions dependency on money, from the donations that have built the many grand elaborate Christian churches to the local orthodox collection box, is seen through the eyes of Eli. A young man with a growing flock casting unseen spirits out of the community, whilst the biggest devil stands right there before them.
The moment where Daniel offers to purchase the Sunday's land brings about the first insight, the moment when the two men recognise each other. "For my church" Eli says in response to Daniels question as to why he needs $10,000. "That's a good one" he replies, the lingering look of understanding laying the groundwork for the context of their involvement with each other.
The story is packed with complicated relationships and bloodlines between fathers, sons and brothers, that stands underneath the search for the precious commodity. H.W. is positioned by Daniels side declared as a nominal partner, almost like a conscience quietly perched on his shoulder. The young boy dressed in his suit carries a thoughtful look upon his face, one that shows the concern from all the things he has witnessed at Daniels side.
As disgusting and vile as this oil man becomes there is also a feeling of pity that through succeeding against the odds he has become the man we leave at the end. America and capitalism has been built on an individualistic ideal, where the sky is the limit. Those that get there discover it can be a cold, lonely place. As a very famous oil man once said 'Blood is thicker than water but oil is thicker than both'.