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phantom thread

★★★★

Director: Paul thomas anderson (inherent vice, The master, and there will be blood)

Starring: daniel day lewis, lesley manville, and vicky krieps.


REVIEWER: lyall carter

Set in the glamour of 1950’s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock and his sister Cyril are at the centre of British fashion, dressing the rich and famous with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Controlled and planned Reynolds finds his life disrupted by Alma, a young, strong-willed woman.  

When Daniel Day Lewis announced that he was retiring from acting many hoped that it was a prank of some kind similar to the one Joaquin Phoenix attempted to pull. Perhaps he will return to delight, scare, and amaze us on the silver screen but until now his performance in Phantom Thread is his last. Boy what a fantastic performance it is. 

The story finds us quietly but purposefully immersed into the lives of Reynolds and Cyril Woodcock, dressmakers, who works clothe the rich and the famous women of London high society in the 50's. Reynolds is an over controlling, OCD sod to put it quite nicely who thirsts to dominate the every environment he inhabits. We discover that he has a muse or a mistress or a bit of both that he has grown bored of and then dismisses, without a second glance. Then he discovers Alma who is every bit as cunning, controlling, and manipulative as he is. 

The pace of Phantom Thread is very reminiscent of Thomas Anderson's superb There Will Be Blood which is measured and very deliberate as each twist and turn of the plot creeps up upon you. There is always the nagging feeling when watching a Thomas Anderson film that there is some kind of twist ahead lying right at the foot of the story's final destination. Phantom Thread doesn't disappoint on that account as the twist is unpredictable and sharp as a sewing needle. 

Daniel Day Lewis would have to be the male Meryl Streep. There is a reason he is the first actor to win three Oscars for Best Actor. This man can act. But not only can he act he is a completely different being than he was in Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood, or Lincoln. He speaks, walks, and holds himself in a whole new way. He is softly spoken, almost to a whisper but we can see lurking behind his darting eyes a ferocious temper ready to explode.
 

Lesley Manville is just as captivating as Reynolds sister who is also very reserved and manipulative, but is the most tempered performance of the whole cast.

 

Finally, Vicky Krieps is outstanding as Alma, the muse,  and is the most emotive of the three main characters in her response to being manipulated and dominated and in her own acts of manipulation of others. She really is a joy to behold.  

 

 

Phantom Thread is worth the time of day for the performances of Daniel Day Lewis, Lesley Manville, and Vicky Krieps alone. But its a Paul Anderson Thomas film so the story is as wondrous as the actors performances.  

★★★★

Phantom Thread is available on DVD, Blu-ray, and digital from all good disc and digital retailers. 

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