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Murray Journal

Dan's Review: Romance complicates art in "Phantom Thread"

Jan 19, 2018 01:56PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread - © 2018 Focus Features.

Phantom Thread (Focus Features)

Rated R for language.

Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps, Richard Graham, Camilla Rutherford, Harriet Sansom Harris, Brian Gleeson, Julia Davis, Nicholas Mander, Lujza Richter, Gina McKee, Philip Franks, Phyllis MacMahon, Silas Carson, Martin Dew, Jane Perry.

Written and Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.



Art is subjective, they say. Relationships are more complicated. The conflict between and artist’s craft and love stand at the center of Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film about a fashion designer who takes on a new muse.

Daniel Day Lewis stars as Reynolds Woodcock, a London fashion designer who dresses queens and other upper-crust folks, with the assistance of his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville). When Reynolds meets a lovely waitress named Alma (Vicky Krieps) during a stay in the country, he is enamored by her beauty and begins courting her; both as a love interest and a dress model/muse to inspire his imagination as a dressmaker. The pair falls in love, but the relationship becomes complicated when the normal trappings of being a couple interfere with Reynolds’ eccentric methods of dress creation. The tension grows even as the couple marries, leading to even greater conflict.

Phantom Thread is a work of beauty, but is not your traditional narrative love story or tragedy. The strength of any Paul Thomas Anderson’s film is the finer details between characters, like natural settings, rooms, and especially clothing. Daniel Day Lewis’ committed performance is especially compelling, solidifying his stance as this generation’s most gifted actor. The portrayals of Manville and Krieps are perfectly suited to orbit Lewis, whose character seems to be the center of his own controlled universe. It’s a marvel to watch, if you’re open to such tastes.

Again, Phantom Thread is a film dedicated to film art, and not your typical date night movie experience. I liked it as a piece of art, as one would admire a beautiful dress perfectly suited for the woman who wears it. One slightly annoying component of the film is the constant sound track, which is best described a really good “elevator music” turned up a tad too high. I know this was done on purpose, perhaps to reflect Reynolds’ ever-imposing persona, but I found it distracting. 

Phantom Thread Trailer