When my wife and I saw Phantom Thread at the Spectrum Theatre in Albany one Saturday afternoon in February, I was not quite sure what the title meant. Was it the secret messages that he sewn into each piece of apparel he makes? Maybe.
Or perhaps it’s the emotional push and pull of the three primary characters. Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a renowned dressmaker in 1950s London. The confirmed bachelor decides that his current girlfriend needs to be sent away because her capacity to inspire him has diminished.
Then he meets a somewhat awkward young woman Alma (Vicky Krieps) who he attempts to mold based on his needs. Buttering toast never sounded so loud. But she is more strong-willed than she appears at first.
His sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), my favorite character, is his majordomo; almost everything runs through her, which was confusing/frustrating to Alma for a time.
The relationship between Reynolds and Alma operates on two speeds, great love and irritated indifference on his part, the latter tied to his fastidious creative process. Alma understands the latter but obviously prefers the former and does what she needs to foment it. It is, let’s say, a dysfunction romance.
The movie looks marvelous, with great use of color. Reynolds looks great, even when he ought not, and Alma is transformed. I liked it well enough to recommend, though it is at 130 minutes, a little slow, especially in the beginning. Its R rating is for the occasional F-word.
Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson’s eighth movie, and his second collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis, the first being There Will Be Blood (2007), which I did not see. I have seen Andersen’s Punch-Drunk Love (2002) and Boogie Nights (1997).
Whether or not this turns out to be Daniel Day-Lewis’ last film, he’s deserving of the Oscar nod here, though he will not win. I discovered that I saw him in several films – Gandhi (1984), A Room With a View (1985), and My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) – before I really knew his name.
I watched his breakout role in My Left Foot (1989) for which he would win an Oscar. It’s likely I saw The Age of Innocence (1992) and In the Name of the Father (1993) at the Spectrum, but I never saw him again until Lincoln (2012).