Don’t worry, Phantom Thread has nothing to do with The Phantom Menace. Just like the new Star Wars films.
Following the success of There Will Be Blood, writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson and actor/whatever profession his characters have Daniel Day-Lewis reunite for this Oscernated drama about a controlling couturier in 1950s London; a role for which the notorious method actor prepared by spending a year at the New York City Ballet’s costume department as an intern. Though it’s not clear how making teas and coffees for a year would ready you for a lead part in a film. Unless it’s Swimming with Sharks.
Whatever he did obviously worked, because his performance as demanding dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (seamingly his last before retirement) is expectedly on point. With a face that’s somewhere between Christoph Waltz and Marlon Brando circa Last Tango in Paris, Woodcock is the creepiest dressmaker since Santino Rice. He and Lesley Manville (who plays Reynolds’ stern sister) offer a masterclass in passive-aggressive acting.
Subtle hostility boils over into poisonous rage with the arrival of Woodcock’s love interest Alma, luminously played by Luxembourgian Vicky Krieps. As the dynamics of power shift uncomfortably between them, so does the picture’s tone, weaving its way from opulent costume drama into campy black comedy; a similar concoction to Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, but somehow even weirder because the prestigious elements are that much more refined.
Anderson’s intimate camerawork, the lavish production design and an atypically romantic score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood make this a delight to watch as it unfolds. The surprisingly funny script is laced with absurd dressing-downs, delivered with such bonkers glee by Day-Lewis. His breakfast order alone will have you in stitches.
That same bonkers glee marks the ending, which is so compleately weird that you’d never gusset, and is sure to be divisive. But is it a darn good yarn? Of corset is.