Saturday, January 27, 2018

Movie Review: Phantom Thread

In the latest film from Paul Thomas Anderson and possibly the last of actor Daniel Day-Lewis's career, a love story is told while exploring the struggle of being ambitiously creative. Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) sticks to a strict routine that allows him to create beautiful dresses that are revered in 1950s London. He goes through a series of women having his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) get rid of them once he is bored. He believes that he cannot marry and stay loyal to his work as a dressmaker. After leaving his latest lover, he decides to take a long vacation on the coast where he meets the waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps). He becomes enamored with her almost immediately and invites her out to dinner after ordering a large breakfast. She accepts and they go out on a date that night. 

He uses her as a muse and starts to make a dress when his sister arrives somewhat dulling the mood. Still, their romance blossoms though Alma warns Reynolds that he should be careful about breaking her heart. As they grow closer together Reynolds brings her to London and gives her a room and at first, he is attentive towards her but as the focus returns to his work, she notices that he is slowly losing interest in her. Breakfast is an important part of Reynolds routine and he desires that it be absolutely calm and quiet during this time so when Alma spreads butter or clinks a glass a little loudly it disturbs and annoys him. 

Cyril is at first mistrustful of Alma's presence as she has been through this before but Alma slowly grows on her. Alma assists in making dresses and earns Reynolds's respect when an especially troublesome client disrespects Woodcock's work and Alma forces the wealthy client to return the dress. Their relationship gets better but as before, Reynolds starts to drift away. A princess commissions Woodcock to make a wedding dress and Alma feels threatened by the young woman's presence in the house. She establishes her territory and plans a surprise for Woodcock. When he returns for his walk, she has a dinner made but everything seems to go wrong and Alma realizes that he will soon be rid of her. 

Alma enacts a plan having learned of poison mushrooms, she slips a few in Woodcock's morning tea. Reynolds's health slowly declines until he faints amid the inspection of the dress and knocks it over, damaging it. Cyril gathers the workers to fix the dress overnight while Alma attends to Woodcock. Cyril calls Dr. Robert Hardy (Brian Gleeson) but Alma refuses to let him see Woodcock. When Reynolds finally recovers, he proposes to marry Alma wanting her to be in his life permanently. They go on a honeymoon and they begin to disagree. Alma flirts with Dr. Hardy who is also in the Alps where they are vacationing. Reynolds returns to work and begs Cyril to help him get rid of Alma. In the end, Alma makes an omelet with the poison mushrooms and Reynolds happily eats it.

Phantom Thread is a gorgeous movie with wonderful performances from Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville. Paul Thomas Anderson tells an amusing story about love, creativity, and passion. The film has tons of humorous moments even as it tells a somewhat frightening story of obsession. The images are spellbinding to look at and even though I have no interest in fashion, I found the movie very entertaining. It has been very enjoyable to revisit Paul Thomas Anderson and I hope he makes many more movies to come even if this end acting for Daniel Day-Lewis. 

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