Set in 1950s London, Daniel Day-Lewis plays renowned dressmaker, Reynolds Woodcock. His fastidious life is shaken when he meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), becoming his lover and his creative inspiration she is both integral and an irritant attention vacuum to him. Caught between these polarizing feelings the House of Woodcock could not be tenser.

Director Paul Thomas Anderson and the prized Daniel Day-Lewis reunite after their teaming on There Will Be Blood for this charming, fascinating story about relationships, gender roles, control and perhaps to an extent, fetish. Paul Thomas Anderson is a director whose films in recent years have become increasingly insensitive, objective yet distinguished, oft-times leaving an empty feeling as you exit the cinema.

He is a director that punishes idle viewing and pushes you to be active in your consumption of his work, Phantom Thread slots perfectly into Paul Thomas Anderson’s flair for objective character studies.

Vampiric charm

Under the microscope, this time is Reynolds Woodcock, played by Daniel Day-Lewis allegedly for his final acting performance ever, Day-Lewis bows out on a subtlety masterful performance. Woodcock is played with a vampiric charm, utterly captivating for every scene he is in yet there is a faint taste of malevolence to him, the narrative seems to tenuously orchestrate a look into the psyche of control in relationships as well as a twisted meditation of fetish that does more than overindulge itself pushing it to its absolute limit. While the story doesn’t always take off the way it wants, setting itself up as a love story but failing to swoon with most of the first act being ill-paced, never allowing a scene or the characters to settle or develop anything into an interesting place – the film grows into itself and is ultimately engrossing.

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A highlight of Phantom Thread is the utterly beautiful aesthetics, the production design is flavourful and intriguing, paired with the cinematography that gives the film a soft vibrancy yet it manages to feel archaic and unnatural, it mirrors the characters and narrative wonderfully. The uncomfortably tense ambience is contrasted by the harmonic and downright masterfully striking score from Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood who has paired with Anderson for his last four films. It’s a sympathy of excellence and enchanting storytelling, which itself plays off of fairytale tropes, with talks of curses and happily ever after, in the ideal, wedding dress, it’s clear that the film is intended and certainly does have a dreamlike nature to it.

Final Say

Phantom Thread may fail to capture all its intents, overindulge its ideas and slow methodical pace but it is undoubtedly an utter masterful demonstration of Paul Thomas Anderson’s artistic direction and Daniel Day Lewis’s unparalleled acting capabilities.

Phantom Thread is both uncomfortable and beautiful, surprisingly funny and wonderfully subtle, while it may not hit every note perfectly it is a film that continues to grow on you, stay on your mind, despite a few loose stitches this is certainly a tightly woven film that demands repeat viewings.