In 1950's London, a perfectionist dressmaker strikes up a romance
with a young woman who upsets his carefully planned way of life.
Phantom Thread (2017)
Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville,
Brian Gleeson, Camilla Rutherford, Martin Dew
Oscar Wins - Best Costume Design
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Daniel
Day-Lewis), Best Supporting Actress (Lesley Manville),
Best Director, Best Original Score (Jonny Greenwood)
Phantom Thread is very much an actor's film, as it's meticulously designed to be a vehicle for Daniel Day-Lewis to show off his considerable talents. I quite enjoyed the film, mostly due to the flawless performances. There's very little story to be had, and in a rare case, it doesn't hurt the film. Phantom Thread doesn't feel like a story. It feels like we're watching a neurotic, lonely man unravel due to his inability to understand love and what it means to have it. It may not be Daniel Day-Lewis's greatest performance, but it's subdued, intelligent, and a great film to retire with.
Day-Lewis is renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, the toast of the London fashion scene in the 1950's. He's obsessive, lonely, insufferable, and quite unaware of other peoples' feelings. When he meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), he starts to think he has fallen in love, though his hard nature causes him to struggle with the concept. Instead, he begins to feel like Alma is needling her way into his life and upsetting his carefully planned status quo. The way the film has you constantly shifting allegiances between Reynolds and Alma, especially once Alma begins poisoning Reynolds to make her dependent on him. But then, Reynolds berates her in public and treats her like a housemaid. It's a constant struggle.
Phantom Thread is a film that you will either love or hate. It's movie gold to film buffs, but the casual moviegoer will likely dismiss it as last year's Oscar bait, and they wouldn't be wrong for doing so. Paul Thomas Anderson's filmography speaks for itself, and Phantom Thread is another feather in his impressive cap. It's got some story problems, but the performances outweigh them. It's easier to enjoy the film if you think of it like you're watching a snapshot of a man's life. Life doesn't always have a coherent story with a satisfying resolution. Most of the time, it just goes on, much like Phantom Thread.