Starring Daniel Day Lewis and Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread tells the story of a London dressmaker who becomes involved with an impressionable, but tough, younger woman. It is a a dark, twisted, sometimes amusing, Cinderella story.
As usual, I had no idea what Phantom Thread was about going in and I could never figure out where it was going. Until we got there. And it paid off. If you don’t care for a slow-paced (I’m sure many would think it is booooring) movie, don’t bother with Phantom Thread. This movie reminded me of classic Hollywood films with the score overriding the dialogue at times and being used to sweep in and out of frames. The glamour, grandeur, elegance and slow suspense of this film will bring classics such as Now Voyager and Rebecca to mind, with its über-European feel including seaside cottages with sweeping tides, grand estates and sophisticated-sounding accents and such.
Now, along with all that glamour, as in the aforementioned films, there is this spirit of 1950’s patriarchy, male chauvinism and the oppression of women – but it all has purpose, and it is important. The movie takes us back in time to where we once were and really reminds us (Hold up! Just for the record, as a black woman in America, when I say “us,” I operate with a full understanding that I have never been engaged to a rich European dude or been a rich European woman myself, and the 1950’s weren’t especially great for my people overall, but you know what I mean when I say “us”. Work with me here! It’s just a movie people please…I am talking about a collective audience and how the writer attempts to move that audience is all.) how much things have changed, along with how much things have remained the same.
Paul Thomas Anderson wrote the story and feeds you bait using this “Phantom Thread” all the way through. He dangles threads of this story like a carrot and you have to follow unquestionably, just to figure out what happens next. Along with the manipulation going on, on the screen, the script is manipulating the audience the whole time and it really is brilliant! It is written with subtlety, nuance and balance. Nothing is what it seems. At times it feels like absolutely nothing is happening, but in the background there is so much going on. Phantom Thread is not just about love, it is about crazy love. And at the same time it is a commentary on what relationships (marriage, friendship, employer/employee, siblings) are like in real life, beyond the fantasy of it all; the bare boned reality of the day to day and what it takes to keep relationships alive. “Phantom Threads” are all around and are a recurring theme throughout the entire story. The threads are the things that motivate us and control our action and reactions – and it gets pretty deep. The parallel between the way this dressmaker works and his relationships with humans, women in particular, is perfectly depicted as well. He’s a man in total control who gets what he wants, and does what he wants when he wants – or so it seems. That’s all I’ll say and I would advise against reading much more about it if you haven’t already, if you intend to see it.
The camera work, cinematography, scenery, set design, costumes, makeup, hair, are all impeccably done. This man is rich and has built a grand London design house and a lifestyle that is luxurious and indulgent – and that’s how he lives his life. And you feel this in every detail of every scene and every shot. It really is beautiful and worth seeing on a big screen for this reason alone.
Daniel Day Lewis is just amazing. He stole my heart in this movie. He is mean, rude, has a nasty disposition and a poor outlook on life. He is talented, passionate and empty. He is also dashing, incredibly charming and vulnerable. I have a theory that if we all refuse to believe or accept that he is truly retiring, it won’t be true. It’s just that simple. Problem solved. Leslie Manville, as the dressmaker’s sister and business partner, is amazing here and deserves that best supporting actress nomination. (She’s my pick so far, although I’ve yet to see I, Tonya (by the way, just as an aside, you have no idea how difficult it is for me to spell Tanya with an “o”!) I have never heard of or seen Vicky Krieps before seeing her here as the dressmaker’s love interest, but I want to see more from her. The entire cast is stellar.
When I started writing this review I rated Phantom Thread 7.5 out of 10 bloops, but as I examined the film further, it easily earned 9 out of 10 bloops. It’s an excellent movie that is worth seeing because what it manages to do is manipulate your perception while the characters remain exactly who they are from the beginning. The acting is strong. Everything about it is solid and purposefully done. The story is well written and suspenseful; but again, it is written in a way that may seem slow and dull. It also runs long at 2 hours and 10 minutes, so it can range from being this beautiful, must-see movie, to being slow, dull and long, depending on whose watching. You know yourself better than I do. I loved it but I surely cannot speak for you. Do what you feel. If it’s for you, enjoy, and if it isn’t… you know what to do.
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1 = worst ever, avoid at all cost
2 = very bad, forget about it!
3 = poor movie, not recommended
4 = not good, even for free – NO!
5 = so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6 = not bad, could have been better
7 = good movie, worth seeing
8 = great movie, don’t miss it!
9 = excellent movie, a must see!
10 = a masterpiece, go see it now!
What I’m reviewing next…
What I’m absolutely seeing this week –
There’s nothing out this week that is noteworthy because it’s awards season, so the market is soft. I’m thankful for that because I have some catching up to do!
Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World
The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The Big Sick
All Eyez on Me
It Comes at Night
The Wedding Plan
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
I Am Not Your Negro