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July 5, 2018
Phantom Thread (2018) --- "Explore The Complex Life Of A Fashion Designer Haunted By His Mother's Ghost And The Women Who Control Him."
Set in the glamour of 1950’s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutantes and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love. With his latest film, Paul Thomas Anderson paints an illuminating portrait both of an artist on a creative journey, and the women who keep his world running. (1)
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Hello, Movie Buffs!
Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights), Phantom Thread (2018) is an intimately delicate and beautifully crafted masterpiece that expresses an artist's creative journey through threads of fashion and romance. Through an expansive story, lavish cinematography, epic sound, and a stellar cast the film follows a unique perspective on love, in which sometimes love is used to shape and manipulate a person’s delicate heartstrings in order to achieve someone else’s goal or ideas. At first, the film presents itself as a stylish and romantic look into the fashion industry but as the film progresses we start to see a tense and somewhat crazy world without losing its lightness or romance. Aside from being a romance, this film is also a ghost story as it explores the notion that artists are haunted by ghosts and they use are to quell an inner yearning for something transcendental. Phantom Thread develops a life of its own which allows Anderson to squeeze tension in every frame, further highlighting the notion that this film is haunted.
This film builds into a peculiar love story that will shock most viewers because we see a complying male fashion designer fall in love with a girl 30 years his junior. In addition, this film is a love story with sadomasochism, though who is the sadist and who is the masochist is debatable. The story is incredibly detailed, even when nothing, in particular, happens there is still a story being told, which is rarely seen in films. This film understands that you can use less dialogue or sound if you will, and still tell an interesting story that leaves an impression. Whether it’s through a glance, a silent scene between characters or even when a character touches an outfit. The story also relies heavily on the audiences’ connection with the characters.
Aside from directing and writing the screenplay for Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson is the film’s cinematographer. The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking, as Anderson implements Stanley Kubrick's (2001 A Space Odyssey; The Shinning) method of cinematography. He utilizes longer silent scenes in order to highlight the shorter scenes with dialogue, as a result, this method allows for more control over the film’s dramatic effect.
In addition, the costume design and music score are worth noting. Considering that this is a film about a fashion designer, the costumes are beautiful and awe-inspiring. The music score by John Greenwood (There Will Be Blood) perfectly encapsulates the 1950’s era, leaving audiences with a feeling of having stepped through time. The music sets the atmosphere for every scene; sometimes it’s romantic and periodic, while other times it’s suspenseful and hostile.
This film is filled with solid performances, this being Anderson’s second collaboration with Day-Lewis, the first being There Will Be Blood (2007). Of the cast, the three main characters stand out the most. Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln; Gangs of New York) portrays Reynolds Woodcock a dominated fashion designer, a master couturier and persnickety to the point of OCD. He’s a classic momma’s boy and as such, he is haunted by the ghost of his mother. So much so that he sews little keepsakes of his mother into his garments, which is his strange way of keeping her memory alive. And the best part is that not only does Day-Lewis’ flawlessly portray this character but his portrayal also helps the audience get inside Reynolds’ head. The two women who fight to control Reynolds’ life are portrayed by Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville. Vicky Krieps (Hanna: The Colony) portrays Reynolds’ very young lover Alma, whose arrival shakes the very foundation of Reynolds’ quiet and monotone lifestyle. Her stint around the kitchens certainly comes in handy but how she challenges Reynolds to come out of his shell and embrace life on his own terms is remarkable. It’s nice to see her interaction with Reynolds’ controlling sister Cyril (Lesley Manville – Maleficent), who needs to be knocked down a peg or two.
Overall, Phantom Thread (2018) is a masterpiece that delicately transfixes audiences by exploring the complexities of an artist's obsession and that an artist uses art to combat the ghosts their hunted by. There is so much attention to detail throughout the story that most times the characters didn’t even need to utter a line to get the scene’s point across. The cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful; the music score sets the atmosphere for every scene, and the performances were flawless. If you are a fan of Darkest Hour, The Post or I, Tonya then you are sure to enjoy this film.
"It's comforting to think the dead are watching over the living. I don't find that spooky at all."
- Reynolds Woodcock
Worth Seeing: 7.8 of 10 stars
Worth Buying: 7.8 of 10 stars
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