“Don’t pick a fight with me, you won’t come out alive.”
Director Paul Thomas Anderson brings us another magnificent film with Phantom Thread. The film tells the story of Raymond Woodcock, a distinguished fashion designer, who makes extravagant dresses for royalty, debutants, and the wealthy. In a trip to the country, Raymond begins a new relationship with a waitress, Alma. As problems begin to arise, Raymond must now juggle his romantic relationship, his artistry, and his relationship with his domineering sister, Cyril.
Phantom Thread, which is said to be Daniel Day-Lewis’ last film role, is one that I looked forward to for many, many months. We see this man, who takes his form of artistry to the next level. Often, the audience sees Raymond sketching out different dresses at breakfast time, only to be irritated by a point of conversation, or the revolting sound of someone eating. These scenes are only a small taste of who Raymond is, and how seriously he takes his work. When Raymond begins a relationship to Alma, she at first, only sees the good parts of him. By sharing her life with Raymond, she becomes a creative inspiration for Raymond’s work. But as their relationship starts to intensify, Alma is hungering for him to love her in the same way she does.
The actors throughout the film are simply superb. Day-Lewis is once again in a role where he brings every bit of himself, not settling for anything less. If this should be his last role, he will have had a career that not only seems to be a 10 out of 10, but a career that will continue for generations to come. Vicky Krieps, who plays Alma, has had a few notable performances, but shows her true acting abilty when in scenes with Day-Lewis. I would consider Krieps to roughly be an unknown as of this performance, but she held her own. In a dinner scene with Day-Lewis, she fights Raymond on the many negative quirks that he has. Raymond pushes, but she pushes harder, not giving in to her love for this man. However, Lesley Manville, who plays Cyril, took the cake as far as performances go. She doesn’t have a large screen presence, but when she is on screen, her words sting. They bite. This proper woman adds so much to the film, that it’s hard not fall in love with her as the venomous words fall from her mouth. There’s a scene between her and Day-Lewis, as Raymond challenges Cyril in the conversation she has brought up at the breakfast table. Cyril pushes back with her force of words as Raymond angrily sips his tea.
This film is intriguing, but not exciting. Even the scenes of great dialogue are few and far between. It’s a slow burn. But I wouldn’t say that this is a negative. Anderson’s films are usually slow in progress, but will leave you feeling satisfied. Anderson takes a leap with the film’s finale. Though it did not work for me 100%, I can see what tried to come through. I’m still contemplating the ending, so I may go into detail at a later time.
Phantom Thread is a must-see movie. Paul Thomas Anderson’s creativity continues to shine through in his work. There were times, when watching the film, that I thought I was watching something from the 50s. This film is classic in both filmmaking and storytelling. If you don’t like the ending, at least go to see the remarkable female performances that are at the heart of this film.
Written and Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville