Writer/Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Runtime: 2h 10min
Genre: Drama, Romance
4 1/2 Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the best in the business. He has given us Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood and The Master and in knowing this, you are groomed ahead of time and fixed for a compelling story shot in an extraordinary way that will lead you into a world that you can believe exists beyond the shadow of a doubt… right next door. With Anderson’s new film Phantom Thread, it’s no different.
Even above the story, he cast one of the best actors in the business in Daniel Day-Lewis. Unfortunately for us, Day-Lewis has decided to make this film his last but what a way to go. This fascinating piece and his performance in it will not be forgotten, as their work together in There Will Be Blood will never be.
The opening of this intriguing tale is orchestrated with the movement of the actors. Right away, we are introduced to Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) and are witness to what he does for a living. He is a renowned couturiere, or fashion designer, in London in the 1950s, which were really the last decade when women of style had their clothes custom-crafted by garment makers. Reynolds, who lives with his sister, is deeply superstitious and very eccentric with how he handles his work, believing his dead mother is all around him, encouraging his work. He has always been taken care of and doesn’t quite know how to speak with women other than to order them around as he does his models. He’s used to spending some time with women he beds, leading them on and then he moves away rather abruptly. He’s an incurable bachelor and believes marriage only leads to deceit… until he meets a waitress by the name of Alma (Krieps) who doesn’t play into this. She questions and defies him, unlike any woman ever has, and he’s immediately intrigued. He’s both bothered and smitten by her at the same time and begins to see her as his muse. Unlike most people he engages, Alma is unrefined and obnoxious and when she challenges him it throws him off. Reynolds behaves like a spoiled child because he has always gotten his way. He prefers to have the last word and with Alma, he doesn’t always get what he wants.
As one might expect from a Paul Thomas Anderson film, Phantom Thread is full of surprises. What you think this movie will be by watching the trailer and what you believe is going on while you’re watching it might not be what’s actually playing out. Anderson is also the cinematographer on the film and to give you the overall feeling of how people lived in the period, he had all of his equipment inside of a small house rather than using a soundstage which set the tone beautifully and helped lend to an aura of madness and authenticity. Reynolds expects Alma to give more than he’s willing to give and as we go deeper into his psyche, we see the vulnerable boy the man holding the thread truly is.
This is an incredibly intelligent film, rich in characters with a beautiful score. The chemistry between Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps is strong and Anderson takes advantage of it every chance he gets, using both their strengths and their weaknesses to bewilder his audience. You’ll love the buildup and the dialogue to the final moments. It is slow to start but the payoff is well worth every second. This is legitimately a brilliant film. You’ll want to see it more than once.