Len Fearnside’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ahhh, so that was exactly what I needed. The study of a man, lost, and out of place with the world around him. He finds redemption in a singular man...or does he? Freddie Quell; a wayward misanthrope and a drunk, with nowhere to go and nobody to care for him, was certainly not the easiest character in the world to sympathize with, but sympathize I did. Part of that was Phoenix, who was truly fantastic as Quell, but part of it was also Anderson and how he chose to show Phoenix; at times bombastic and frightening and at others frail and child-like.
You can feel his struggle as he tries to adapt to this new family and love/be loved by Hoffman (who is also amazing; under control 99% of the time, but with a rage bubbling under the surface that peeks out when pushed) but can he love the man and not love his beliefs? In a seeming cult like this, I would think the answer is no, but it is a fascinating question and one that for me was investigated very well here.
I'm still a bit unsure on the significance of some of the, what seem to be, dream sequences (I debated with myself on these quite a bit after the film ended) that Phoenix experiences throughout the film, so that is something I will need to be more aware of the next time I watch the film.
As of right now I still have this behind There Will Be Blood in my PTA rankings, but we will see what happens as time goes on as I like this film more and more as I reflect upon it. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, it looked bloody amazing too.