DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson STARRING: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville UK/USA 2017
Paul Thomas Anderson is a master. This is not an opinion, it’s a fact. Revered by peers, critics and audiences alike, the man has crafted highly intelligent, analytical and emotional works in films such as Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood (possibly one of the best films of all time) and The Master, among others. Phantom Thread reunites the director and Daniel Day-Lewis (in what is presumably his final performance) for a tale of sweeping elegance where the clues lie in the details.
Reynolds and Alma’s love story (and central focus of the film) is an interesting one: on one hand we’ve got an obsessive artist with a sacred routine and very high standards of quality who believes love to be doomed for himself, yet always falls on hopeful cycles that fail through the test of time; and on the other hand we have a delightful young woman who is convinced of the feelings they share and is hell-bent on finding her way to her man’s heart. Their relationships takes many twists and turns which I will not describe here in detail so as not to spoil the experience of watching the film for you, but the psychological way in which the characters play off of one another goes from tender to brutal in a frighteningly natural way. Needless to say that Daniel Day-Lewis mops the floor with nearly any modern actor out there today, and his portrail of Reynolds Woodcock is, again, a masterclass of acting, but Vicky Krieps deserves just as much praise: she carries this film with rare, beautiful grace, not begging us to sympathize with her, but making us willingly follow her.
Jonny Greenwood’s score might be his best so far. In fact, the film’s main theme invites itself into my head’s radio (see what I did there, eh?) station suddenly with frequency, easily taking me back to the film’s visuals. Which, by the way, are gorgeous. It’s not just that the wardrobe is great (it’s a film about a dressmaker, so if it doesn’t win an Oscar for that category, something is seriously wrong), but the cinematography (which was not even the product of an experienced cinematographer) is absolutely beautiful, with a focus on still shots, swift movement and light colors.
All things considered, it’s hard to find something to dislike here. The ending might make or break the film for you, and the pacing is pretty slow overall… but is that even a problem? I went into this film with my girlfriend and she is sometimes that “oh, it’s one of those boring artsy movies?” sort of person, so she went into this pretty annoyed… when it ended, there were tears streaming down her face as she told me “that was beautiful!” very honestly. And it is a beautiful film. With repeated viewings I might give this a 10, but I’m not sure yet. Maybe this is my way of making sure that I’l watch it again. And again. And again. And so should you.