Phantom Thread, what is reported to be Daniel Day-Lewis’s last movie, is my favorite film of 2017. If I had to pitch it to a studio, I’d say Phantom Thread is Sixth Sense meets Misery, meets Harald & Maude. But that comparison doesn’t do it justice. Paul Thomas Anderson (director of my other favorites Magnolia, Boogie Nights and many a Radiohead video) has directed a moving painting that exists for the sake of art. And it doesn’t care if you like it, because it knows it is perfect.
Phantom Thread could easily have been an indie short film. The plot reminded me of many short stories from Gothic literature. But this movie is not about the plot – in fact, several themes were left underdeveloped. This film is about mourning and loss. It’s about the simple act of waiting and watching. It is a longing for things timeless and continuous. It is nostalgia for the classics. Perhaps it’s about the artist’s need for eternity to reach perfection.
Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps are wonderful, but the unsung star is the fashion. Every dress presented is a work of art. In one scene I forgot myself and blurted out “Wow!” in the theater. You will find yourself craning your neck, anticipating the dress around the corner.
Despite the title, Phantom Thread is not a ghost story. Yet it haunts you. A week later, I still feel it under my finger nails. I hear it as I butter my toast for breakfast. Two weeks later, I want to go back to its world. I catch glimpses of the film weaving its way into my mind, reaching for connections. I still feel the characters’ glaze and the texture of the dresses. And I see Reynold’s perfectly out of place Japanese tea bowl.
That’s my review. I don’t want to give away any more of the plot than the below press release. My advice is to NOT wait for television to see this film. If you wait for Netflix, you will miss how visceral and haunting a single stitch can be. Phantom Thread opens December 25th in select cities. It expands to other cities in January 2018.
Per Focus Feature Press Release:
Set in the glamour of 1950’s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life, providing the confirmed bachelor with inspiration and companionship, until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by love. With his latest film, Paul Thomas Anderson paints an illuminating portrait both of an artist on a creative journey, and the women who keep his world running. “Phantom Thread” is eighth movie, and his second collaboration with Daniel Day-Lewis.
Photo Source: Phantom Thread & Focus Feature