Anderson delivers with “Phantom Thread”


Daniel Day-Lewis in “Phantom Thread.”

Paul Thomas Anderson’s ninth film, “Phantom Thread,” once again pairs the director with acclaimed actor Daniel Day-Lewis.  In what is slated to be Day-Lewis’s final film he portrays Reynolds Woodcock, a renowned couture dressmaker in 1950s London.

With the help of his sister Cyril, portrayed by Lesley Manville, dresses from the House of Woodcock are worn by celebrities and royalty alike.  Woodcock exudes style and posie, inspiring confidence in those who wear his garments.

While driving to the countryside, Woodcock meets Alma, a stunning waitress portrayed by Vicky Krieps.  Her performance inspired second-hand blushing and goosebumps throughout the film.  As Alma serves him breakfast, the two connect instantly, and she agrees to his invitation to have dinner with him.  They quickly grow closer and Woodcock designs dresses for Alma.  Soon enough Alma back from the countryside staying in London with the Woodcocks helping with dressmaking and modeling.

Woodcock’s obsession with his work and reluctance to commit to their relationship on a deeper level causes strife between him and Alma.  At times, Woodcock acts resentful to Alma though she has done nothing but love him.  Seemingly trying to push her away, Alma stands her ground and consistently challenges Woodcock who acts much tougher than he really is.

  Krieps more than holds her own opposite of Day-Lewis, acting with furocity as Alma fights against Woodcock who is quite the curmudgeon regarding disruption to his way of life.  Alma’s character brings a joy into the movie that isn’t fully recognized when it focuses on Woodcock.  In multiple scenes, the two exchange silent stares that seemingly last forever, the tension palpable.

Aesthetically, the film is beautiful from start to finish.  Anderson captures the beauty of Woodcock’s garments with extreme close-ups focusing on the intricate details of the dresses.  The designs are beautiful, not gaudy but meticulously crafted.  Further close-ups emphasize dialogue essential to portraying the nuances of the relationship.  The few scenes taking place outdoors had pristine backdrops of English coastline and countryside while the more intimate indoor scenes were perfectly candle lit.  Scenes in which Woodcock is driving are lively, as they are shot looking into the front windshield and the camera shakes along to the bumps in the road.

Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead fame, who has worked with Anderson previously on “There Will Be Blood,” “The Master” and “Inherent Vice,” scored the film with elegant but distinct orchestral sounds fitting for the period drama.

Although Oscar nomination have not yet been released, “Phantom Thread” is expected to make a run for Best Picture, and Day-Lewis could potentially win his fourth Academy Award for Best Actor.  If you have enjoyed Day-Lewis’ past roles his performance as Reynolds Woodcock is a must see as well as Krieps portrayal of Alma.  Anderson delivers yet again, and hopefully this will not be his last collaboration with Day-Lewis.