Phantom Thread is kind of what you may expect from Hollywood being released toward the end of the year. This could mean that the movie is largely ignored or it could theoretically become a huge hit due to the hype it could receive during the awards push. On the other hand, Paul Thomas Anderson’s work hasn’t been able to reach that level over the past few years now, and some of that probably has to do with the quirky qualities of his films.
Set in the 1950’s, renowned British dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) stands at the center of British fashion with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) due to the distinct style that’s been established at The House of Woodcock. In spite of the popularity of their brand, the two have been leading controlled and isolated lives together until Alma (Vicky Krieps) enters the fold. At first, she’s only a muse, but things develop in a way that rattles the conventions of the siblings once Reynold takes her on as a lover.
My fond view of this movie only grew as everything moved along. It has somewhat of a slow start, but it eventually gets flowing and never becomes boring. This is a work of cinema that really has a handle on things in a way that we rarely get to see in the world of film. As we move through all of the incredibly detailed world that’s being laid out, everything feels balanced, controlled and well structured just like the lives of the two siblings we’re introduced to.
As the pace picks up, Phantom Thread becomes tighter and more emotionally stimulating. A part of this is due to the characters getting to know one another and becoming more intimately connected in the process. It mirrors real life in this case as the characters become more comfortable with one another and begin to show their true selves. As in real life, it’s something that we all do in one way or another, and showing this in movie form makes for a unique experience.
Of course, one of the main features that assist in making this happen is the acting. The casting here proves to be magnificent as each person fits into their role as well as one would hope. Add that in with Paul Thomas Anderson’s eye and we have a picture that is elegant and a bit disturbing in a way that can also be considered understated while offering enough to capture your attention and hold on to it as you study everything that’s taking place on the screen.
These factors make the movie an exquisite piece of entertainment with a high quality artistic hand leading it along the way. There’s a level of patience and virtue to the filmmaking here that can be studied by those interested in such things. What we see here is usually lacking in today’s cinematic features as we lean more and more toward the heavy-handed and obvious displays of film work. While neither makes or breaks a movie in every instance, watching something like this illustrates the need for experimentation and genuine artistry.
Phantom Thread would have been near the top of my favorite films of 2017 if it didn’t feature such a disappointing ending. As masterful as the rest of the film is, the conclusion is the exact opposite. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say the problem that is here comes from the fact that the conclusion doesn’t fit the rest of the movie and makes no logical sense. What’s seen in Phantom Thread comes off as both believable and insane. The film’s end however, maintains its insanity, but dives head first into a realm of the preposterous.
I’m assuming Anderson couldn’t come up with a better way to close things out. And while the way it ends knocks the entire movie down a bit, it doesn’t make this a bad picture overall. As for the general public, I don’t know if they will really be into this movie as much as I was. This is a type of picture that some will definitely marvel over, but others can see others not being as into it. Because of this, it’s possible that it won’t get the audience it might deserve, but there’s a strong chance that we’ll be hearing from it once the awards are being given out.
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Film Length: 130 minutes
December 25, 2017 (Limited)
January 12, 2018 (Wide)
Distributor: Focus Features
- Score - 7.5/107.5/10