TL;DR – A film of two halves, beautiful direction and action, with a story that just didn’t work for me
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – No Post-credit scene
Well this is an odd duck of a film, in some aspects it is exquisite and yet in others is it feels distant, and that disconnect is fascinating. So today we are going to explore the highs and lows of Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film and from all accounts Daniel Day-Lewis’s last film, though I believe that like I believe John Farnham every time he says this tour is his last.
So to set the scene, it is the 1950s in London, and anyone who has money comes to Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) to get their outfits made for any important event. The design studio is run by Reynolds and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) and has a cult following among the British and European socialites. Reynolds is a brilliant man but he is also a very eccentric man, finding women becoming deeply attached to them before becoming bored of their presence and waiting for them to leave. After one such event, Reynolds takes a drive to his country house to recharge when he comes across Alma (Vicky Krieps) in a local diner. He is instantly entranced by her and she soon becomes his muse, only for the same pattern to present itself, or maybe not this time.
So before we start, the one thing I do have to say is that the acting is truly exquisite. Every movement, every look, every intonation has a purpose in Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance. He embodied the character so well it is hard to see him not as a real person and we are looking in on his life like a fly on the wall. The supporting cast is also not just going to let Daniel have all the fun, bring to bear their full arsenal of talents to create this world. Add to this the set design, and costumes are all evocative of the time period, which is really important when you film is about costumes.
With this I loved how the camera moved throughout the film, there was a classical elegance to its positioning, but then with these movements that give it an almost surreal feel. Like when Reynolds is driving to the country house and we cut from the view into the car as he drives to a camera sitting on top of the roof following every bump on the road as the car speeds down the country roads. Add to this Jonny Greenwood’s score is just sublime, starting with just the piano, then adding violins and strings as the relationship develops and then dying back to just the piano, mirroring the ebbs and flow of Reynolds and Alma’s lives.
However, I don’t think the film works as a whole, and for me, it is because I could never buy into the ‘fix’ that they come up with to make it work. There is this point when they get married and at that point, I found out I could not support, identify, or even care for any of the two leads, and it made the long march to the end from there frankly a bit of a struggle.
Now look I can honestly see why this film is getting 5 out of 5s from people, the DNA of a classic is there in the performances, the setting, and the production. However for me, the story just didn’t have the legs to make it to the end, and so it just ended up feeling overlong and frustrating. Maybe it is just that we have recently seen the Muse/creator relationship taken to its extreme in mother! (see review) I don’t know, but honestly, I don’t think I can quick recommend Phantom Thread.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Phantom Thread
Directed by – Paul Thomas Anderson
Written by – Paul Thomas Anderson
Music by – Jonny Greenwood
Cinematography by – Paul Thomas Anderson
Edited by – Dylan Tichenor
Starring – Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps, Camilla Rutherford, Gina McKee, Brian Gleeson, Harriet Sansom Harris & Lujza Richter
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: 14A; Germany: 6; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R