Phantom Thread (2017)


Looking this good comes at a price.

Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is one of the more renowned dressmakers in England and he’s gotten by for many years based on his sense of fashion, passion, and love for what he does. But it’s also what drives him, as well as the people around him, a little mad. It’s why his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) is the only constant in his life who not only helps him run his business, but also ensures that he’s able to get the job done, whenever he oh so needs to get it done. However, Reynolds’ life gets spun a little out of control when he meets Alma (Vickey Krieps), a waitress who immediately catches the eye of Reynolds. And it isn’t long before he starts asking her to model for him, live with him, and yes, even start shagging. But Alma doesn’t just want to be another one of Reynolds’ infamous muses – she wants something more permanent and loving. It will ultimately cause issues for all parties involved, but mostly Reynolds.

Kiss? Or don’t. I don’t care! Just act!

Even after 22 years of making masterpiece-after-masterpiece, PT Anderson still finds ways to shock and impress. Phantom Thread, while on paper, may seem like another one of PT’s stuffy, yet beautifully stylized class-acts of distance, is exactly anything but. Sure, it’s a beautiful movie, that’s filled with stuffy people, smoky rooms, and even more so, style out-the-wazoo, but it’s anything but distant – it’s a lot more involving than you’d expect and if anything, it’s also his most romantic movie since Punch-Drunk Love.

Granted, there hasn’t been much competition on PT’s end, but still, it deserves to be said that Phantom Thread is something of a screwball-romance that gradually gets more serious, more complex, and a whole lot more weird as it develops. But that’s what’s so enticing about Phantom Thread, and PT movies as a whole: Even when they’re done, you’re not really sure what you’ve watched. In a sense, Phantom Thread is a drama that discusses the idea of passion for one’s art vs. passion for one’s life, but in another sense, it’s also about this talented and successful man, who may also be kind of a dick. Either way, it’s incredibly watchable and compelling to watch, in part because Anderson has a small surprise for us at every corner, but also, it’s because the performances are so amazing, you never know what you’re going to get next from any of them.

Especially, first and foremost, Daniel Day-Lewis himself who, as he’s stated, may be performing for the very last time.

Uh oh. DDL’s upset.

But if this is his way to go out, then Day-Lewis is going out on a pretty great note, because while Reynolds Woodcock has all of the ripe and raw ingredients for a fully-dimensional and powerful performance, Day-Lewis takes the smart road and downplays almost everything. Reynolds is such a quiet and thoughtful man – always thinking to himself, sketching whatever dresses he can think of next, etc. – that the times where he lets loose and loses all control of his senses, are surprising. The movie’s never sure of whether or not it wants to love and praise Reynolds, or cast some partial blame on the way he is, but that’s fine with me – movies like this are sometimes best when they leave stuff in the grey areas.

And also, it’s what PT’s been doing for so long now, so why stop? Like I said though, Day-Lewis is amazing here and every second we get with him here, it’s like watching a master at his craft, perfect it with each and every scene, and remind us that he’s one of the true masters. But Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps are both pretty amazing, too, playing two very different woman who also, in a sense, portray two different sides to Reynolds himself. Manville’s Cyril is a rough, tough, and smart-as-hell woman who loves and supports Reynolds, but also isn’t afraid to call him out on his bullshit, whereas Krieps’ Alma isn’t afraid to, either, but she’s also madly in-love with him and at his every beck and call. It’s an interesting dynamic the two play, but most of all, they work well because PT put some time and effort into how they factor into this story, with Reynolds, and whether or not they will ever come together on a certain decision.

But really, it’s not all that simple and it’s why Phantom Thread, is another sure home-run from PT.

I just hope that he’s got more of them.

Consensus: Beautiful, dazzling, exciting, compelling, and supremely-acted, Phantom Thread is another winner from PT Anderson and assures us that no matter how far and wide he goes beyond his story-elements, he always finds ways to keep drawing us back into whatever the hell he’s doing next.

9 / 10

“Lookin’ fabulous, darlin’.”

Photos Courtesy of: Focus Features

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