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Phantom Thread Review- A tale woven through deeper than times!

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  • 9.5/10
    Critic's rating - 9.5/10

Phantom Thread Review

“There are things I want to do, things I simply cannot do without you.”

One of the world’s best actor says this with a swift accent that at the same time evokes a man’s emotion letting him gauge into the inner depths of a character.

Daniel Day-Lewis decides to end his acting career and what an ending it is! The final act before calling curtains upon the versatile persona’s career on screen. Paul Thomas Anderson comes back after Inherent Vice to shoot his first film outside America. The combination of Anderson and Day-Lewis is second after There Will Be Blood. With extremely intricate characters he gives us a storyline that highlights the endeavor of a brave filmmaker and the gentle touch of an artistic conundrum. Phantom Thread sets itself to become one of the best films of the year and on a path to become a classic that will be adored past its generations.

The film opens in 1950s London where Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) designs dresses and garments for the elite. One of the best designers, Woodcock has a way with his work! He is obsessively devoted and passionate towards his work. With the magnetic personality, he is respected by his folks and society alike. Reynolds’ sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) looks over the chores of the house while has control over Reynolds’ commanding personality. Over a short visit outside the city, Reynolds meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress at a restaurant there. They go on a date and their relationship starts to develop. Over the course of time, Alma gets bothered of his lifestyle and feels out of the place with his habits.

The narrative effectively follows a polar pathway showing attraction and repulsion from both sides. Woodcock is shown to be a fashion aficionado who doesn’t like to fiddle with his work, a mere disturbance in sound level causes him to be perturbed. A character like Woodcock doesn’t shy away from showing the other shade of emotional overwhelms as well. Woodcock loves Alma indubitably at certain times, again as the narrative progresses we see Woodcock not letting her inside his creative space. Alma though initially enjoying a completely different side of lifestyle later gets carked by the quibbling nature of Reynolds. On the other side, Alma’s love for Reynolds teeters away at moments while giving them comfortable space. At other times it rebounds and weaves itself back into Reynolds’s world and she conciliates herself with him.

The contrasting counter-shades to the three characters and their exploration to a certain extent with understanding the human emotion is depicted by Reynolds, Cyril, and Alma. The three of them share a sphere where it becomes difficult for Alma to be on terms with the Woodcock’s living style. Cyril has an extremely subtle understanding with his brother and her interaction with Alma about Reynolds chronicles the narrative at an important junction.

Anderson decides to film his cinema all alone taking a cue from his long-term collaborator Michael Bauman and Colin Anderson. The cinematography started early off before principal filming and gave for an illustrious period look depicting the cultural strata of the elite society in London. The backdrop light effects along with the mix of color and texture perfectly combined to set up for the production design.

Vicky Krieps portrays a very transitive character, vividly showing shades of love, desire while being with Day-Lewis and again at times feeling bereaved of comfort when subjected to scrutiny by Day-Lewis, apparently over her obstreperous nature. It is only astonishing to see her giving one of the best performances in opposite to one of the best actors of all time. There weren’t any instances where Day-Lewis’ acting clouded the emotional characterization of Krieps.

With a different notion of character structurisation in a narrative, Paul Thomas Anderson restores faith in original mainstream American films, at the same time setting it outside America. Phantom Thread easily takes the place at the top of Anderson’s filmography alongside There Will Be Blood and The Master. A true cinematic vision and sheer artistic genius, he is one of the auteurs to work as a serious American filmmaker in the contemporary times!

Daniel Day-Lewis’ sublime touch makes him an enigma in the big-screen ever since his performance from My Left Foot to Lincoln. His performance as Daniel Plainview is considered by many to be the greatest character acting in this century and he is heralded by many to be one of the best actors of all time drawing parallels alongside Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. With Reynolds Woodcock, he ensured that he bids farewell to the screen with one of the best performances which will be held in high regard both in modern and classic cinema. Fans of Day-Lewis will be hoping that he may return on-screen after a certain period of time as he did when shooting for Gangs of New York.

But until then, adieu!






About the author

Arijit Paul

A self-professed Satyajit Ray fan, Arijit is one of those rare cinephiles who has an unconventional notion of Films. An admirer of auteurs like Kurosawa, Bergman and Scorsese alike, Arijit hopes that one day he will be able to bring a new wave in Indian cinema. Apart from films, he finds life in literature, music and traveling. His blogs are likely to be the most unprejudiced view on whatever topic he decides to write on.

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