Phantom Thread review – a twisted love story with superb performances

By Ryan Keating-Lambert


Phantom Thread is nothing short of a masterpiece and a phenomenal swan song for Daniel Day-Lewis in is supposedly final role.

Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a renowned London dressmaker, falls in love with young French waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps). The two develop a complicated and unconventional relationship in order to sustain Woodcock’s demanding lifestyle.

Master director Paul Thomas Anderson has concocted a British gothic romance that focuses on one man’s obsession with finding beauty in ugliness, and yet another of his films that focus on the complications of dysfunctional families and broken relationships… and man oh man, is this one messy. Superbly written characters.

Daniel Day-Lewis, who won an Oscar for his performance in Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, makes a fitting exit from the industry as the pretentious, arrogant and obsessive Woodcock. He manages to make a tactless and spoilt Mama’s boy become a fascinating subject for scrutiny. On top of that, the actor makes a fitting dressmaker and actually took on sewing for the role – 100 buttons sewed in total to be precise.

The antidote for Woodcock’s obsessive nature and self-righteousness however, comes in the form of Alma, played brilliantly by Luxembourgian actress Vicky Krieps. The couple’s turbulent relationship is addictive, and it’s extremely satisfying to see Alma’s degree of control and emotional power steadily grow over the course of the film. It’s a fantastic conclusion.

The film boasts wonderful performances all round, but perhaps none as noteworthy nor memorable as that of Lesley Manville in the role of Woodcock’s commanding sister Cyril, who keeps the household and business firmly in check. Both Manville and Lewis are nominated for Oscars.

My only issue with Paul Thomas Anderson films is his preference for lengthy runtimes. Phantom Thread however, is a thought-provoking and engaging enough film that’s only strengthened by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood bringing yet another fantastic score to an Anderson film. Not a dull moment in sight.

The film has been nominated for 6 Oscars altogether including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Costumes for which it more than deserves. Mark Bridges brings an authentic look at the height of ’50s fashion but sticks firmly to tradition rather than overdoing it like a Tom Ford film. It never reaches the level of ‘fucking chic’ as Woodcock would put it.

This is the craft at its best. An absolute must see.

Photo: Pure Fandom



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