Set in the glamour of 1950s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants, and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love.
Phantom Thread had a lot of talent involved. Not only is this directed by Paul Thomas Anderson but this is Daniel Day-Lewis’s final performance. However I’ll admit I wasn’t really as hyped for it as I wanted to be, I can’t tell if it’s the premise or the trailers but for some reason it really didn’t interest me that much (even though I knew I was going to watch it eventually). Despite my thoughts before going into it, Phantom Thread blew me away on pretty much every level. Paul Thomas Anderson has expertly crafted a meticulous and possibly near perfect film, accompanied and elevated by fantastic performances. It’s one not to miss.
I know that the trailer makes Phantom Thread look like a one note, drawn out movie with not too many surprises, but it’s actually not that at all. As the movie progresses you learn little things about each of these characters that only leads you to become even more interested in the story. It also feels a bit like a mystery thriller without actually being that, it feels rather Hitchcockian at times. I’m not going to spoil what happens, it’s best going into Phantom Thread not knowing too much. All I can say is that its an unconventional romance that is quite unpredictable. This movie is surprisingly funny at times, its not a comedy but it has quite a bit of effective humour. Phantom Thread is 2 hours and 10 minutes long and its quite slowly paced, which can be off putting for some but for me I was interested from start to finish. It is also not for everyone, just like a lot of PTA’s other films, Phantom Thread goes into some areas that may be weird for some but I loved that he went there. This movie is also filled with so much detail that I have a feeling that I’m going to pick things up with repeat viewings.
Saying that Daniel Day-Lewis gave a great performance is kind of redundant, because it’s obvious that he’s going to, but he truly is fantastic here. Unlike some of his other performances like in Lincoln or There Will Be Blood, he looks like himself but yet he transforms so much into this character Reynolds Woodcock. Woodcock is really one of these artists who is so dedicated to his craft who can be very difficult to say the least. As the film goes on you begin to learn more about him as a person. The performance is just so incredibly subtle, layered and nuanced and it really works. You really end up studying his reactions. If this is truly Daniel Day-Lewis’s last performance, then he has gone out on a high note. There are two other performances that shouldn’t be overlooked. One is Vicky Krieps playing the character of Alma. She doesn’t have an easy task, with her playing opposite Daniel Day-Lewis but yet she pulled it off and was incredible. Krieps’s performance is very expressive and external, which balances out DDL’s very subtle performance. There is a lot more to Alma than it initially seems. The relationship and power struggle between the two are the driving forces of the movie and the chemistry between the two actors really helped in making them work effectively. Another great performance is by Lesley Manville as Reynolds’s sister, she is probably the most composed of all the performances yet commands so much presence when she’s on screen, she was great as well. All these three come together to make the movie even better.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s direction is very fantastic as always, the film is so beautifully shot, lit and directed. There is so much thought put into what’s on screen, and so much detail that could be seen. The production design is great and unsurprisingly the costume design was really great (given that the movie is about a dressmaker). Jonny Greenwood’s score was also great, it beautiful, elegant and haunting and only adds to the movie even more. Everything about Phantom Thread has been polished to perfection.
Phantom Thread was a truly remarkable film. The performances were outstanding, the story was intriguing and unpredictable and Paul Thomas Anderson as usual directs it incredibly well. This film is filled with so much detail that I can see this movie being even better upon repeat viewings. Phantom Thread is one of the best films of 2017 and it is well worth the watch. If you have been waiting a long time to see this, trust me well I say it’s well worth the wait, I’m certain that you won’t be disappointed.