Mark Dubec

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MovieMark Grade Guide Movie Critic

Phantom Thread: Review

The team of Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson is back in what is allegedly Lewis’ final role. It will be difficult for this talented actor to put away his craft at such a young age. We will hopefully see him again onscreen one day. It would be a shame for him to end with Phantom Thread.

The name, Phantom Thread, sounds a lot cooler and exciting than the movie actually is. The story takes place in London in the 1950s. The main character, Reynolds Woodcock, (Day-Lewis) is a meticulous man in every way that also happens to be a famous dressmaker. He has mommy issues and an odd relationship with his sister, who is also his business partner. Woodcock is a bachelor and surrounded by women who come and go throughout his life. That is until he meets Alma. (Vicky Krieps) The director has done this young actress the biggest career favor by casting her in this role opposite the retiring Day-Lewis. She takes control of this film halfway through and never let’s go. Her performance is equal to that of Day-Lewis.

The scenes are beautiful and well thought out and the costume design is exquisite. It seems great attention to detail was made and the feel of the movie is one of a classic motion picture where the story unfolds at its own pace. Phantom Thread is not in a hurry to go anywhere.

Some of the lines that Anderson wrote for Day-Lewis are amazing and he doesn’t disappoint with the delivery. That might be the best part of the film. The dialogue and words are fantastic and the performers deliver them perfectly, here are some of my favorites;

“Marriage would make me deceitful and I don’t ever want that.”

“I cannot start my day with a confrontation. I simply have no time for confrontations.”

“That is just too much movement at breakfast.”

“Whatever you do, do it carefully.”

“The tea is going; the interruption is staying right here with me.”

The film is slow moving and there is not a lot going on outside of the little world the dressmaker lives in. There are some interesting themes about love and gender roles in relationships in regard to power. Alma refuses to conform to being told what to do and Woodcock is a coddled man who has always been babied and given his way. You get to see how crazy and happy love can make people. In one moment, you feel the absolute magic when another person embraces their partners passions like they are their own, then in another watch as people maneuver and change and act out to get the things that they want from each other. Doing things alone in relationships tears away at the fabric of the “us” component needed for its survival. All of that is on display with the complicated and archaic love story that is at the heart of the film.

Phantom Thread seems well intended and the effort is there, but they forgot to include one very important item that all classic films have. What if you have artful filmmaking, stellar acting and wonderful cinematography included in the experience but it all leads to nowhere? That is where this ride takes you, nowhere. It was enjoyable in a way but overall unsatisfying.

The Bottom Line: It’s nice to look at but when it’s over there is an empty feeling. Nice try, but not good enough. This needed a better ending.

MovieMark Grade: C

Rated R
130 minutes

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