Phantom Thread review
Have you ever been in a relationship with an artist? They'll say that it can be difficult, as most artists tend to be indifferent towards their significant other's differences. Artists make their living by doing things their own way. Now that they have to surrender a little bit of that to live with someone else, that can throw part of their creative intuition off balance. Perhaps before, when they used to have sleepless nights trying to create the perfect paining, is changed because they have to do it during the daytime rather then evening. Or perhaps a significant other has to take a job in another town, causing the artist the deal with the possibility of moving. To change an artist (especially a renowned famous artist) is like changing an older person; not impossible, but very hard.
Perhaps it's a mental disorder like Aspergers or obsessive-compulsive tendencies, or it could be a certain personality type who sees the world as their own canvas that they can use to their advantage. An artist who has to share things is sacrificing more then most people realize. This happens to be the focus; an artist whose forced to change in Phantom Thread.
In the mid fifties in London, a famous dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) is like a lot of artists. He has a set way of living, from how he eats his breakfast and keeping his shop at home. His sister Cyril (played by Lesley Manville) manages his operations, his house, and is the most encouraging of his obsessive nature. Reynolds is known for hiding messages within the stitching of his dresses, calling back to his mother. While out for a little trip to the countryside, he becomes attracted to a waitress Alma (played by Vicky Krieps). The two start a romantic relationship…but don't play out like you think.
Though it's clear that Reynolds has a lot of complicated feelings for Alma, he doesn't treat her with the same kind of passion that she does to him. Aside from remaining on his side, she also works as one of his assistants. Reynolds is partially annoyed by her changing of his routine, but is also respectful of her, knowing that she is trying and willing to put up with him. They bicker and fight, but they also play certain roles. When she tries to host a intimate dinner, he gets angry that his routine is off. But when she cares for him when he falls ill, he's reminded why he really likes her.
I guarantee that Phantom Thread will not be a film that a lot of people would expect. There isn't a story or even that much of a plot. It's just about two people learning to live with each others differences. The film was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master, Boogie Nights) whose known for rarely having focus in favor of creating characters that are interesting enough for you to follow their decisions to see what they make of them.
Phantom Thread is his most definitive example of that. As I said, it's about two people living together…and that's pretty much it. Because of that (especially with it's long running time), this is not a typical film for the mainstream audience. In fact, when I got out of the theater, I didn't know what to think other then it was shot beautifully. I then thought about just what people have to sacrifice to find a different kind of happiness that made me think. The movie's writing does help separate the characters not just with their dialogue, but with how their personalities show how bad they are…and yet how good they are for each other.
Because of this, Daniel Day Lewis and Vicky Krieps are amazing. Krieps is perfect as the woman who is doing everything to try make her lover happy, but has her limits when pushed too far. Lewis on the other hand, is exactly what I'd expect a famous fashion designer; egotistical, arrogant, demanding, and compulsive. Anybody would have ran from this guy, but Lewis gives him a soft, boy-like voice that gives people the illusion of sweetness.
I'll give this four 1950s gowns out of five. For the average moviegoer, I doubt they'll get into the slow building of a relationship. But for those that love these kinds of art-house features, Phantom Thread will definitely please them. This movie is a lot like the beautiful dresses that the main character designs; elegant, deep with patterns, and something you have to admire based off of the form.