Phantom Thread




Daniel Day-Lewis’s final film is a thing of beauty if not an entirely engaging experience.


Phantom Thread 

There will be beige: Vicky Krieps with Daniel Day-Lewis


If Daniel Day-Lewis keeps his word, Phantom Thread will go down in history as the actor’s final film. He’s already received a Golden Globe nomination (his eighth) and an Oscar nod for his part, and as the obsessive, controlling couturier Reynolds Woodcock he commands the screen with his customary presence. It’s a painstakingly crafted drama, reflecting the attention to detail with which Woodcock lavishes on his creations for the rich and famous. He’s a fascinating figure, a charismatic giant in his field, who sows secrets into the hems of his garments and is relentlessly particular in who is worthy to sport his apparel. In one instance, he is so appalled by the drunken behaviour of one of his celebrated customers, that he storms round to her house and has his dress forcibly removed from her comatose body. The film opens with Woodcock’s meticulous personal grooming and proceeds from there, where he holds court at his grand Georgian London house. His work is his life, overseen by his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville on splendid form) who anticipates his every whim. The only thing he lacks is a woman to share his bed…


And so Phantom Thread segues from character study to love story, in which the young Swedish waitress Alma Elson (the Luxembourgian actress Vicky Krieps) glides into Woodcock’s heart. But the dressmaker is far too self-absorbed to allow Alma full autonomy to be her own woman under his roof and it isn’t until she takes matters into her own hands that an uneasy equilibrium begins to take shape.


Daniel Day-Lewis won his second Oscar for his role as the ruthless oilman Daniel Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood. Here the actor and director are reunited for a less epic and dramatic concoction, although the film is not without its mastery flourishes. It is a beautifully tailored piece, with exquisite attention lavished on the smallest particulars, from the diligent sound design to Mark Tildesley's ravishing art direction. It is perhaps unfortunate that it resembles another recent film with not dissimilar plot points, namely Lady Macbeth from first-time director William Oldroyd. Yet the latter, at a fraction of the price, exerted a considerably more visceral thrust, and with humour to spare. Anderson’s films do have a tendency to wallow in their own self-importance at the expense of human involvement and, regrettably, Phantom Thread is no less guilty. In the end, then, it’s a film that one tends to admire rather than engage with, but one cannot deny its noble power and originality. And Daniel Day-Lewis is jolly good value.




Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville, Camilla Rutherford, Gina McKee, Brian Gleeson, Harriet Sansom Harris, Lujza Richter, Julia Davis, Sue Clark, Philip Franks.


Dir Paul Thomas Anderson, Pro Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison, JoAnne Sellar and Daniel Lupi, Screenplay Paul Thomas Anderson, Ph Paul Thomas Anderson, Pro Des Mark Tildesley, Ed Dylan Tichenor, Music Jonny Greenwood, Costumes Mark Bridges.


Focus Features/Annapurna Pictures/Ghoulardi Film Company/Perfect World Pictures-Universal Pictures

130 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 2 February 2018. Cert. 15.