<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps
Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes
What a strange and tangled film Mr Paul Thomas Anderson has woven for us.
The critics will love Phantom Thread for its wild eccentricity and wry humour. But if you’re a regular Joe, you may find the film a tad too whimsical and pretentious for your taste. I actually started off feeling very bored. But gradually, Phantom Thread draws you in by stitching together a psychological and dramatic love story combined with a character study of a maniac genius.
Daniel Day-Lewis – in what he says is his last film – plays a leading London fashion designer named Reynolds Woodcock. Countesses and princesses flock to him for their wardrobes. He is a master at his work, no doubt, but Reynolds is a recluse preferring the company of his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) who manages his business; he’s an eccentric who gets bothered if someone butters toast too loudly at breakfast or interferes with his routine in the slightest way. One would think a man like this would find it hard to get a girl, but they seem to be won over by his talent, his occasional ability to charm and of course the pretty dresses and money that they bring in.
Probably as a distraction he ends up wooing a pretty waitress named Alma (Vicky Krieps). She is smitten by him to the point of overlooking his idiosyncrasies and the strict sister he comes with. Alma becomes his muse at times and at others his tailor or model. When he is vulnerable is when he wants her around the most. And she knows this.
Day-Lewis plays Reynolds with a dry brilliance. He’s insufferable even to the point of hating his very voice and style of talking. Initially, I couldn’t stand him. But as he gets weirder, you feel a bit sorry for the man. And then you realise that he’s found a woman who can stand up to him and be just as crazy as he is. She’s such a change from the usual that even his sister Cyril begins to admire her.
Phantom Thread has no stunts or CGI. It relies solely on the performances and direction. Vickey Krieps manages to steal the show from Day-Lewis as the pretty waif who embeds herself into his life. It’s a love story between two characters who are like chalk and cheese but end up being as twisted as each other.