First Hit: Although the cinematography and sets were wonderfully created, I kept waiting for the actors and plot to hit full stride. It felt overly wound up and not given a chance to unwind and breathe.
The opening scenes of this film are powerful and designed to give the audience (I winced more than once) a real sense of the drive, depth, and determination of Daniel Plainview, played by Daniel Day-Lewis.
Daniel’s determination and drive lead him to become an independent oil driller in the Signal Hill section of Southern California. He is competing against the likes of Standard Oil and Union Oil. He and his boy H.W. Plainview (played by Dillon Freasier) are told of an oil of ocean sitting above the ground east of the Central Coast of California.
He makes a deal to view the land and if there is oil on it will attempt to buy the land from its owners. Besides finding the land brimming with oil, he encounters a willful young man who believes he is a prophet of God who wants his fair share of the money for his fledgling church.
He strikes black gold immediately but his son gets hurt in the process. He coldly ships his son away because his son cannot hear any longer and Daniel has little tolerance for anything weak. In fact he gives quite a speech about how he hate and tries to find the hate and weakness in everyone. What I found missing is an understanding as to why Daniel has this intense desire to hate people.
Overall: The cinematography was excellent and the film kept the edge of suspense active but simply going through one pent up moment to the next the film forgets to breathe and when the final scene came it left me cold and disappointed.