“Phantom Thread,” tells a different kind of love story. It’s so different in fact, that at first you may not realize it’s about love at all. But hidden beneath the layers of anything-but-chic gowns and loads of snark is a story about two people finding their perfect match.
Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, the film tells the tale of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a high-end dressmaker in 1950s, post-war London. With the help of his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville) he is one of the most successful designers in the city.
A perfectionist to a fault, Woodcock lives a life of routine. That is until he meets his latest muse, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who turns out to offer much more than inspiration.
What plays out between the two is a struggle for power. First, Reynolds is in power when he’s introducing her to the world of fashion. Then she gains the upper hand through her disruptions to his life which he quickly reclaims by shutting her out.
Back and forth they go, each one tugging in their own direction. That is until finally finding, in a supremely sly and slightly sinister way, that they’ve been the perfect pair all along.
It’s a film that appears to be something else and then transforms right before your eyes. Not in a gotcha way, but it allows you to enter into the innermost sanctum of these characters lives. It’s beautifully and masterfully told both behind and in front of the camera.
In front of the camera, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, and Vicky Krieps play beautifully off one another. This trio and their chemistry, in large part, make the film work.
One might assume (and they wouldn’t be entirely wrong) that fashion is the star of this story. The stunning haute couture does dazzle on the screen, but another less obvious creative process also shines, although not literally. The sound in “Phantom Thread,” is its own star.
From a spoon shattering the silence as it clangs on the back of the teeth to a knife coarsely spreading butter onto toast that sounds more like a rake being dragged through gravel, it sends a message. Every unwanted variation to Woodcock’s routine of silence is treated as a loud and unappealing disruption. It’s like nails on a chalkboard and it’s beautiful.
With its simple, but complicated story, gorgeous sound, and beautiful acting, “Phantom Thread,” is a deserving nominee and perfect final film for Day-Lewis.
…just for fun: