Reynolds Woodcock is a genius tailor who encounters Alma, a waitress who quickly becomes his muse and love interest.
Set in post-war 1950’s London, Phantom Thread follows Reynolds Woodcock, masterfully portrayed by the Oscar nominated Daniel Day-Lewis as he falls for Alma, played by the equally brilliant Vicky Krieps. Complicating the relationship is Reynolds’ sister and business partner Cyril played by Lesley Manville, also Oscar nominated for a brilliant turn.
Paul Thomas Anderson has masterfully written and directed a fascinating and compelling character study. The story is delivered through expertly crafted lines of dialogue, delivered wonderfully by Daniel Day-Lewis in his final role.
Reynolds is a man peculiar man, unwilling and unable to change. Cold and aloof, with an obsessive nature and a quick temper, every minute of his day is dedicated to optimising his ability to work. Yet, there is a warmth to him, he’s a softly spoken and charismatic man with a vulnerability he doesn’t want the world to see.
Alma is utterly infatuated with Reynolds but she refuses to be subordinate to him and instead challenges him and his quirks where others never have. Reynolds is dismissive, but polite, to his staff and his sister, who never challenge his behaviour. Alma refuses to be sidelined when Reynolds is aloof towards her. She is strong-willed and obstinate, throwing a spanner in the works of Reynolds’ finely tuned machine. Her presence is the driving force of the story, refusing to bend to Reynolds’ will.
The status-quo is upset.
Phantom Thread is a study of Reynolds’ character and his relationship with Cyril and Alma, all living under the same roof. The conflict, attraction and obsession are all simmering under the surface but Anderson is clever not to allow them to boil over. Instead, he opts for nuance and subtlety; showing the micro-emotions which underlie any relationship which are beautifully expressed by this brilliant cast.
It’s a beautifully shot picture complimented by a stunning score composed by Jonny Greenwood, making it a treat for the senses. Despite being glacially slow, the film doesn’t get bogged down in detail. It rewards the patience of the audience with lovingly written characters and relationships. It also helps that it’s remarkably funny thanks to Reynolds’ peculiar quicks and Day-Lewis’ charm.
Beautiful. Patient. Masterful.
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