“Phantom Thread” introduces you to Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a famed dress maker in 1950s London. Woodcock is extremely attentive to and concerned with the detail of his everyday life. Woodcock’s routine is flipped entirely upside down when Alma (Vicky Krieps) enters the picture and eventually becomes his inspiration and lover. “Phantom Thread” is the eighth narrative feature from director Paul Thomas Anderson and solidifies its spot in the company of some of his best films like “There Will Be Blood” (2007) and “Boogie Nights” (1997). Anderson seems to have hit is groove once again after coming up short with his last two films “Inherent Vice” (2014) and “The Master” (2012). Just like Woodcock’s approach to life, Anderson is obsessed with detail in the movie. The color and flow of the dresses, perfectly captured with the top-notch photography from Anderson, with it being his first film ever as cinematographer.
Woodcock (Day-Lewis) is fussy about who gets to be a part of his life. His sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) plays the role of her brother’s counsel, therapist and mother in a dysfunctional helping relationship. Cyril is destined to be single forever without a minute to spare for anyone other than her genius brother. Women come and go in Woodcock’s life, none of them being able to stick around for a substantial amount of time. Woodcock quickly grows bored of the women who love him. After a short period time they have difficulty garnering even the smallest amount of his attention. When a woman has run her course in Woodcock’s life, he simply has Cyril remove her like a scrap of old material that isn’t wanted anymore. This seems to be the status quo in his life until Alma (Krieps) disrupts it all by questioning his routines, standing up for herself and, in a hilarious misstep, decides to surprise Woodcock with a private dinner for two.
Krieps shines in her role as Alma. She pushes back against Woodcock and in doing so solidifies a permanent role in his life. She even wants others in Woodcock’s home and work space to know that she is here to stay. In a scene where the Belgian Princess is getting outfitted with her wedding dress, Alma is shown stewing on something in her head. Alma eventually decides to overstep her bounds and go face-to-face with the Princess to wish her well and, it being her main objective, proclaim that she in fact lives in the home with Woodcock. Alma displays her power throughout the film making for a more suspenseful love story. This may be a movie starring Daniel Day-Lewis, but as the viewer learns as the film progresses, it is as much a Vicky Krieps film. For that, the audience should be forever thankful.
Jonny Greenwood, guitarist for the rock band Radiohead, adds what may be the most beautiful part of “Phantom Thread”, the music. Greenwood dabbles as a composer and has more than succeeded. All one has to do to confirm this is listen to the wandering piano and floating strings in “House of Woodcock”. Greenwood’s music sets the the tone for each scene to perfection. A scene that shows this is one where Woodcock has fallen ill and is seeing visions of his young mother in her wedding dress that he made. Greenwood’s “Never Cursed” builds curiosity, suspense and even fear with the sound of the viola player struggling to hit high notes in what may be one of the most real, and gorgeous, pieces of music in the film. The music pairs well with Anderson’s eye behind the camera. Drifting up and down staircases, flowing through stunning dresses and zooming tight on food preparation throughout the movie. “Phantom Thread”, much like most of Anderson’s work, is not one for the mainstream, but is a delicate treat for moviegoers looking for your untraditional love story.
“Phantom Thread” is nominated for six Oscars including Best Motion Picture of the Year (JoAnne Sellar, Paul Thomas Anderson, Megan Ellison, Daniel Lupi) and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Daniel Day-Lewis). “Phantom Thread” is now playing at The Fargo Theatre.