The Intensity of Design

Phantom Thread

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps, Brian Gleeson, Gina McKee

Inherent Vice and The Master director Paul Thomas Anderson reunites with his Oscar winning star of There Will Be Blood which Anderson also directed, the hugely talented Daniel Day-Lewis in his new handsomely crafted film Phantom Thread.

Moving away from America, Paul Thomas Anderson sets Phantom Thread in 1950’s post-war England in the glamourous yet stifling world of British fashion as Daniel Day-Lewis plays the fastidious fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock in a fine Oscar-nominated performance.

Like The Master, Phantom Thread incisively explores the intricacy of human relationships as the film centres on the tumultuous relationship between Woodcock, who hates to be disturbed at breakfast and his young muse, turned model, Alma, a superb performance by Luxembourgian actress Vicky Krieps who fills the screen with an unrivaled radiance.

This radiance is counterpointed by the incisive performance of British actress Lesley Manville (Maleficent, Mr Turner) as the immaculate sister of Reynolds, oddly named Cyril, whose ambivalent sexuality and headstrong business sense ensues that her talented brother is seldom thrown off course. Lesley Manville is utterly brilliant as Cyril and received an Oscar nomination for her integral supporting performance.

What really makes Phantom Thread worth seeing are the beautiful costumes designed by Mark Bridges who won an Oscar for Costume Design for this film as well as for director Michel Hazanavicius’s Oscar winning film The Artist.

Central to Phantom Thread’s narrative is the intense relationship between the feisty and young Alma and the brilliant yet tortured Reynolds Woodcock who naturally displays all the obsessiveness of his craft including retrieving a gorgeous emerald dress from a drunken society lady after her wedding.

Phantom Thread is a slow moving drama, supported by exceptional performances by Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville and will certainly appeal to audiences that have a love of fashion or have enjoyed Paul Thomas Anderson’s previous films which are at times obscure, thought-provoking and significant. His filmography includes The Master, Boogie Nights and Inherent Vice and the Oscar winning There will be Blood.

Apparently Phantom Thread is to be Daniel Day-Lewis’s last film as he hints at retirement, but hopefully it won’t be his last onscreen performance as he has enjoyed a sumptuous career starting with a minor role in the Merchant Ivory film A Room with a View and appearing as Newland Archer in Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence. The supremely talented Day-Lewis is one of only a handful of actors to win three Best Actor Oscars for My Left Foot, There Will Be Blood and lastly in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln leaving an incomparable acting legacy behind.

Daniel Day-Lewis leaves behind an illustrious acting career in cinema and it’s for this reason that Phantom Thread is worth seeing. His performance as the creative, yet obsessive fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock is flawless, exemplifying all the intensity and pressure of design.

Phantom Thread gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10 and is a highly recommended period drama.

 

 

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