Writer/Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Produced by: JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison, Daniel Lupi
Music by: Jonny Greenwood
Editing by: Dylan Tichenor
Costume Design by: Mark Bridges
Production Design by: Mark Tildesley
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, and Vicky Krieps.
A romance for those who don’t like romance.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such an absorbing and beautifully crafted gothic love story.
There is such a subtle and careful intimacy of a man measuring a woman’s waist and arms and bust – a vulnerable exposure allowing a man to know so much. Then to be made perfect; wearing his creation is to want to always stay in the light of his eyes because in his eyes you are beautiful.
It’s an old-world love story of a gentleman who has the temperament of a wilful child, his annoyance shown by the jutting of his teeth, and a woman who blushes under his attentive stare but refuses to be changed by him.
Phantom Thread is set in 1950s post-war London, circling around Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel-Day Lewis) and his obsession of thread and lace and pearl; where a dress is more than a piece of clothing – it’s where secrets are kept, sewn into the seams, where locks of hair are held to be always closely kept.
This is the man of, The House of Woodcock.
Living with his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville), Reynolds confesses his incurable bacholar-hood, calling to his sister to ask whomever the current fancy to leave when he no longer sees them; when they cease to exist in his mind and become like ghosts.
It’s an oddly close relationship, but brother and sister partnerships opening haute couture Houses common at the time. And Reynolds needs his no-nonsense sister to protect him as he creates; the only one to understand him since his mother died. His mother the love of his life and her loss one he’ll never recover: her apperition still haunting the corners of his mind, absorbing any threat for his attention.
His mother’s ghost remains while the objects of his fading desire, die.
Finding himself restless, Reynolds escapes to the country where he meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), an embarrassed waitress who quickly becomes far more than a passing fancy, or muse.
She’s a woman with her own tastes.
This is the second collaboration between Daniel-Day Lewis and writer and director, Thomas Anderson, the first, There Will Be Blood (2007). And another success with his performance making me both want to slap and kiss the man but most importantly to always have his attention because that’s the only time to feel alive: that’s how believable Daniel-Day Lewis is in his role as Reynolds.
Anderson has also brought frequent collaborator Mark Bridges (Inherent Vice, The Master, There Will Be Blood), to create intricate costumes, made from scratch, creating 50 unique garments for the movie, including nine original pieces showcased in a Spring fashion show sequence.
Add music by Radiohead’s, Jonny Greenwood alongside the charm of drawing rooms and tea served in bone china, you have a moving story made aesthetic.
Not that the love story here is all romance – there is far more of the darkness of human nature here.
It’s what love and obsession can do to a soul that’s fascinating to watch: the dance of jealousy and annoyance; the settled and open, to the demanding and cold.
The archetype of a man still in love and grieving for his mother, who only wants to be obeyed; and a spiteful woman, jealous of all other women and demanding of attention.
This is what love can do to us.
And love stories like these will always be relevant – to be ‘protected from ghosts and dust and time’.
I’m not usually one for romances, but Phantom Thread is a thoroughly absorbing enchantment.