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Phantom Thread: Movie Review


When Phantom Thread ended, the very first thing that came out of my mouth was, “Wow.” I just wasn’t sure what else to say after that. I knew I absolutely loved the film, but I couldn’t think of the right words to express how I felt about it. I don’t typically sit through the credits of a film unless I know there’s a scene attached after them, but with Phantom Thread I just sat there after the fact trying to take it all in. As I walked out of the theater, I found myself unable to stop smiling like an idiot because I had just witnessed a love story unlike anything I had ever seen before. “Wow” ended up being the perfect way to sum up my thoughts on the film.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread has been one of 2017’s most secretive films. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock in what he has announced will be his final role before retiring from acting.  Joining Day-Lewis is Lesley Manville as his sister, Cyril, and Vicky Krieps as Alma, Reynolds’ love interest.

This story takes place in 1950s London and revolves around Reynolds, an acclaimed dressmaker who dresses some of the most important people in his country. Reynolds, along with his sister, leads a life that is as carefully put together as one of his dresses. He is a bachelor who uses women for the inspiration he needs in order to create the wonderful dresses he puts together time after time. Marriage doesn’t appear to suit him, as it would only take time away from his work. When he meets Alma, however, things change for him. Suddenly, his perfectly tailored life is thrown into chaos and things take an interesting turn.

Phantom Thread has been one of the most unique takes I’ve ever seen on a love story. It starts off familiar enough, with Reynolds meeting Alma and charming her before eventually asking her out. Things take a quick turn soon after, however, and it becomes a dark, twisted look at volatile relationships that somehow thrive by hurting each other. Phantom Thread is about our desire to share our life with someone, as well as our desire to be left completely alone and finding the perfect place in between the two. It explores the idea that we are never really satisfied with what we have, so we constantly search for something better. I think that the way this unfolds is going to shock some people and their opinion on this film is going to depend greatly on how they react to this. Phantom Thread is filled with moments of tension, but it is also oddly charming and offers some nice moments of levity.

One of the reasons Phantom Thread is able to work as well as it does is because of the fantastic performances from the three leads. Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock is perfection. It’s an intricate, layered character that very clearly required a lot of attention to get right. He can be funny and charming one minute, but then become very serious and brooding the next. Lesley Manville does a marvelous job as Cyril, Reynold’s overbearing sister. From the beginning you get the sense that she is the most important woman in Reynold’s life and they have a relationship that seems to go beyond brother-sister without ever becoming anything taboo. Both of their performances are absolutely incredible, and yet the one that impressed me the most was Vicky Krieps as Alma. The range that she shows here is insane and completely unexpected. I know most people don’t know her yet, but you will definitely know her after this. Her performance is captivating and one of the best of the year.

          Speaking on the technical aspects, it is an all-around perfectly executed film. First off, all of the costuming in this film truly is gorgeous and really makes you believe that the story takes place in the world of high fashion. The nature of the story makes this an absolute necessity and it is treated as such. Sound also ends up being a very important aspect of the story and is used very effectively. Every sound, from the scraping of butter on toast to a need and thread weaving its way through fabric, matters in this film. Lastly, the cinematography is some of the finest I’ve seen all year. This is shot in a way that is very reminiscent of films from the 50s. As a fan of classic cinema, that was style choice I really appreciated.

I’ve found that my love and respect for this film has grown with each passing day. It is a stunning take on a side of love that doesn’t get the spotlight very often. This isn’t the typical fairytale romantic film, far from it. But it is a thoughtful one that tries to understand relationships in ways most films would never even attempt. I love Phantom Thread because it kept me guessing the entire time. You never really know where it’s going until it gets there, but the journey is so worth the price of admission. Still, I suspect the weirdness of the story might really throw some people off. For me, though, this is a home run. If this really is Daniel Day-Lewis’ last film, then this truly is the perfect send-off.

Phantom Thread
  Director:  Paul Thomas Anderson
Studio:  Focus Studio
Genre:  Crime, Drama, Romance
Release Date:  December 25th, 2017
Author:  Eddie Lopez
Eddie Lopez Eduardo Lopez grew up in the hot deserts of the Imperial Valley (El Centro, CA) but now resides in San Diego. Eddie is a recent graduate from San Diego State University with a degree in Television, Film, and New Media. He grew up on classic horror movies but loves movies of every genre and every decade. Aside from talking about movies, Eddie enjoys writing screenplays and hopes to one day have one of his scripts made into an actual film.