Phantom Thread is a self-absorbing tale of love and desire. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood and The Master) has polished one of his finest films to-date, backed by a grand and final performance from legendary actor Daniel Day-Lewis.
I really didn’t know what to expect when I went to see Phantom Thread in theaters. Luckily, it turned out to be an intoxicating experience. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA) weaves his narrative through the sewing machines of this movie. Its attention to detail on the story and characters is stunning. The vibrant photography throughout this film is lush and full of life. This was also PTA’s first attempt at serving as his own cinematographer for the film. PTA’s craft has paid off, by making one of the most beautiful films ever captured on camera. PTA is in peak form here, as we travel with a renowned fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (the masterful Day-Lewis) in 1950’s London. The film is set in the heart and glamour of a post-war London, Reynolds Woodcock and his sister Cyril (a marvelous Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion.
The House of Woodcock are at the top of their game, provided with dressing royalty and socialites. Woodcock is a confirmed bachelor, as women come and go in his life. That’s all about to change when he meets a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (an exquisite Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life. PTA’s masterful hands are swirling through the very fabric of this film, as we follow Woodcock and Alma’s relationship during their highs and lows. At times, they seem madly in love and in others they are about to rip each other apart. “I want you flat on your back. Helpless, tender, open with only me to help. And then I want you strong again. You're not going to die. You might wish you're going to die, but you're not going to. You need to settle down a little,” Alma proclaims to Woodcock.
Those cold words from Alma show us a wicked side of her, yet her tenderness still prevails. While, Day-Lewis remains as one of our greatest actors even for one final film. His posture and charisma embody the very being of his profound character. Woodcock’s attitude in how he lives his everyday life is flawed. He’s obsessed with his work, hiding notes and names into the clothes he makes. At times, his compulsions go erratic by the tiny sound of a pen drop. Yet, his humor throughout the film remains untouched – “The tea is going out, but the distraction is staying right here with me,” Woodcock states. PTA’s newest creation is one that can be endlessly soaked up on multiple viewings. From the story, to the visual, to the score, they're all to die for.
The multiplex-ion of PTA's style infused into his films has always amazed me. The romantic intimacy, luscious desire, and the beauty are all there as we gaze into a life full of luxurious fashion. I am proud to see that this movie finally got the credit it deserved by receiving six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for Day-Lewis. PTA’s eighth feature film receives all five stars from me. Let me end with this, Phantom Thread is a strange, yet wondrous movie experience. It’s one that needs to been seen multiple times to fully soak in. This self-absorbing picture will leave you astonished by its raw nature and allure. The last shot of Day-Lewis is heartbreaking, as he takes his final bow as a true film patriarch. Bravo.
Phantom Thread is rated R (Restricted). For language.