Phantom Thread Screen 94 of 22 reviews

Phantom Thread

2017

Phantom Thread Poster
  • Paul Thomas Anderson has constructed a mysterious romantic comedy through the very nature of its characters and some cleverly constructed storytelling. Reynolds Woodcock is almost a caricature of a fashion designer—incredibly fussy, a mama’s boy still fixated on his dead mother, a creative genius indulged by all with whom he interacts.

  • It is indeed a triumph of stitchery, combining disparate colors and textures into an apparently seamless garment. To watch it for the first time is to be continually teased by contradictory possibilities, waiting for the moment when one of the characters will be revealed as a psycho-killer, or when all will turn to smiles with the realization that love conquers all.

  • What’s remarkable about Phantom Thread is that it’s essentially a small drama, effectively a chamber piece for three main performers, set largely within the confines of Reynolds’s London home cum studio. At the same time, it feels like a big film in the way that some ’40s and ’50s Hollywood romances feel vast, despite restricted settings: it’s executed with great opulence, with a sense of detail that makes it seem hugely expansive.

  • To the deep credit of both Day-Lewis and newcomer Krieps, this love story reverberates with real feeling, emotions ricocheting off the claustrophobic walls. The characters’ arguments splutter, overlap, in ways that feel wholly unscripted. We don’t argue with one another in perfect sentences. Anderson generously gives scenes lots of space for behavior, listening and talking, pauses.

  • Anderson’s stately and stilted treatment of the fashion world made me miss the visceral American subcultures of his early work. . . . But intriguingly, and for the first time in his career, the woman becomes the real protagonist. . . . Their story isn’t one of redemption, but a salvage operation, whereby the slightly less neurotic person tosses a lifeline to the one who is going under—in other words, a love story, Anderson-style.

  • With a precise blend of comedy and light surrealism, it refracts Du Maurier’s Rebecca into the story of a spouse and sister’s management of a fragile male ego; Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville anchor the film in beguiling, nuanced depths. Just as Daniel Day-Lewis’s character sews hidden messages into garment linings, Anderson implies dormant secrets through his mesmerizing slow zooms—a worthy heir to recurring dreams of Manderley.

  • Beyond the dazzling performances of Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville; the swooping and/or oddly angled luminous 35-mm cinematography by Anderson himself; the almost omnipresent orchestral score by Jonny Greenwood, which suggests Nelson Riddle on ecstasy, the movie’s uniqueness is its fluidly shifting tone.

  • Up until now, “The Master” was Anderson’s best film, but “Phantom Thread” is also, in many ways, an improvement on it. . . . With “The Master” and “Phantom Thread,” Anderson tells the same story—in the first film, as tragedy; in the second, as farce. What’s remarkable is that the farce turns out to be the more tragic of the two, because the subject of “Phantom Thread” is love, the tumultuous power of love, and the proximity of creation and destruction in art and love alike.

  • It becomes a more difficult movie as it unfolds, less dazzling, more perverse, and perhaps more rewarding. It is possible that Anderson is done making movies that are chic; but then, Kubrick and Hitchcock spent long stretches being out of fashion as well. Phantom Thread may or may not earn the comparison to Vertigo. Maybe the highest praise I can offer for now is that it is a question I’ll ponder over many years and repeated viewings.

  • There's no sign of compromise in his craft, with nary a trace of the shaggy-dog looseness of his last film, the SoCal hippie neo-noir Inherent Vice. Phantom Thread is a Reynolds Woodcock production through and through, with arresting compositions, a carefully integrated piano-and-viola score by Jonny Greenwood, and performances that crackle with wit and verve.

  • In retrospect, it’s amazing how much of the plot is driven by taste, in both senses of the term. The performances are terrific across the board, while the filmmaking is elegant, intimate, and ambiguously charged, from Anderson’s own (uncredited) cinematography to the creepy and romantic Jonny Greenwood score; the film’s enigmatic and evasive qualities are part and parcel to its psychological portraiture. It’s a beautiful film to get lost in.

  • The tone is uniformly adult, with adult humour and adult behaviour, and so is the filmmaking, which assumes that beautifully lit 35mm film is the only real option there is, and that anything else is just second-rate. With its restricted spaces, flat aspect ratio, lovely filmic grain, and its interest in the dance between interior light and faces, there’s an inescapable comparison here to late Fassbinder, without the tilt into crazy angst.

  • This devilishly funny and luxuriantly sensuous film is so successful as entertainment that it’s hard to stop and notice the extreme degree of craft that went into its construction. To use what will be the first of several unfortunate but necessary textile metaphors, Anderson hides his aesthetic seams such that the visual, auditory, intellectual, and emotional experiences of seeing Phantom Thread come together into an irreducible and deeply satisfying whole.

  • [Anderson is] interrupting the gently rolling reserve with jagged moments of emotion, like little rips in the fabric. Perhaps appropriate to its subject, Phantom Thread is a film of contrasting textures, but it’s a counterintuitive one. Most tales of people finding love present hard, angular worlds and allow romance to soften the edges. Phantom Thread does the opposite: It presents a soft, even sensuous world, and shows us how sometimes love can come in the cuts and the tears.

  • The movie is, of course, beautifully made. Anderson’s visual style is remarkable. Shooting the picture himself, reportedly, with the collaboration of lighting cameraman Michael Bauman, he frames in a Kubrick-inflected style but cuts with a Hitchcock-influenced one. This gives the movie a sense of momentum that’s supported by Jonny Greenwood’s score and the other music (mostly classical) alternating with it.

  • Moody and mesmerizing, Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1950s-set Phantom Thread may be the first of a genre: the haute-couture gothic. The film also serves as a valedictory. Its star, Daniel Day-Lewis—playing a finicky, soigné, difficult British fashion designer named Reynolds Woodcock—has said this will be his final screen performance. If so, it’s a sensational farewell. . . . Phantom Thread thrills as an invigorating tale of moribundity.

  • Anderson . . . has made a film in the vein of "Inherent Vice," totally in command of the medium yet never ostentatious or overbearing. It has a light touch, like the performances of piano-centered classical music heard on the soundtrack throughout. It gets stranger and more delightful as it goes along. I'm still on the fence about whether it ends in the perfect place or whether it was only getting warmed up, but the whole is so surprising that I really don't care to figure out the answer.

  • Anderson drinks in the stylish townhouse where much of the film takes place, framing a spiral staircase in worshipfully low angles as Reynolds's maids, seamstresses, and models ascend it each morning to commence in the ritual of their work. These svelte montages, accompanied by Jonnny Greenwood's hypnotic score, viscerally communicate the profound fulfillment that an artist derives from knowing that everything is in the right place at the right time.

  • Two lives — and two perversities — become one in this ravishingly beautiful, often unexpectedly funny film, which traces the relationship between an eminent couture designer (a magnificent Daniel Day-Lewis) and his younger, surprising muse (Vicky Krieps). It’s a story about love and about work, and finally as much about its own creation as the romance onscreen.

  • This is an achingly beauteous and painful portrait of a complicated, toxic co-dependent relationship. Empathetic without veering into saccharine, it has flawed, yearning, damaged, flesh-and-blood characters (though no one acts or talks like people; the film adheres to a weird but consistent internal logic) that, while retaining the self-destructive and selfish tendencies of PTA’s other characters, feel more complicated, worth caring about instead of just watching them destroy themselves.

  • The picture, shot by Anderson himself, is beautiful to look at: It has a quietly lustrous, satiny finish, like a swath of antique peau de soie that’s been languishing in the dark, far from sun or air, since the Marie Antoinette days. It’s all so pristine and perfect that even just looking at it is probably an affront: Your eyeballs are sure to soil it. This is a curiously unreachable picture, most certainly by Anderson’s design.

  • Anderson could never be accused of not understanding the texts he engages with, but it’s insulting that he presents himself as above the melodrama, that he makes fun of it so extensively. Melodrama takes its subjects – its women – seriously; Anderson does not. Moulding his inspiration in the same way that Reynolds shapes women into ideal figures, Anderson gives us a Gothic woman’s picture without the female perspective, an erotic novel without the sex, a melodrama without the sincerity.

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