U/A: Drama, romance
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps, Gina McKee, Richard Graham
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Anderson's 'Phantom Thread' has the thespian Daniel Day-Lewis venture out into the sublime, in what he has announced as his final film appearance - as renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock who along with his sister Cyril are at the center of British fashion in 1950s London - dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites and debutantes.
Antiquated around the early 1950s, Anderson's Phantom Thread digs into the exclusive world of eccentrics – the life and loves of three control freaks who demonstrate their peculiarities with grandiose eloquence. This is, in fact, an unconventional psychological melodrama of love that spars all along with desire and gamesmanship. The knitted growth of Alma's character is juxtaposed against the warp and weft of Woodcocks- allowing for a contrast that evolves into something intense and engaging.
Woodcock is never short of beautiful women to dress-up and make love to but when Alma (Vicky Krieps), a young and strong-willed woman, steps into his life as muse and lover, his carefully tailored existence is disrupted. Interestingly, they met at Victoria Hotel, where Alma the ever clumsy waitress manages to get Woodcock's order right –prompting him to ask her out to dinner. Talk, fashion measurements and sensual engagement follow in that wake.
Watch the trailer of 'Phantom Thread'
While the two individuals central to the story are portrayed as strong-willed they are not out to do battle with each other. Alma who speaks with a German tilt to her diction has a history that is all too shrouded in mystery. We may not really know where she came from but she is so personable that it doesn't matter much. She keeps Woodcock, a man of diligent routine and insufferable habits, off track.
Every aspect of the movie is micro-managed so beautifully that it comes across as an exquisite tapestry of unfettered, underlying emotion. Anderson's visual style defined by breath-taking lighting by Michael Bauman, make the visuals look iridescent. And the pace is very much happening. Jonny Greenwood's score that veers into the classical, shifts deliberately as the passions flare up – taking us along on that swell of emotion. As an audience, you get tightly drawn to what's happening between the two.
But this is not a film meant to go the conventional way. The resolution is not forthcoming and the confrontations add to the complexities of the charged relationship at the centre of it all. The musical compositions are mostly elevating, the performances from all three are superlative. Day-Lewis, Krieps and Lesley Manville, impeccably don the character asked of them.