Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread ★★★★★

The ghost of Daphne Du Maurier looms largely over Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson's latest achievement and arguably one of his finest works. From the eerie yet discordant opening theme song, there's a psychological fracture that permeates the atmosphere and refuses to leave. Daniel-Day Lewis, in what is purported to be his final performance, is outstanding as always, giving one of his greatest performances that demands absolute perfection within his own artistry, giving his character a mirror of his own real-life persona. The set and costume designs are magnificent, transporting us directly into its 1950's England locale, and riddled with lavish fashion statements that are to be expected of a man who is supposed to be the most renowned fashion designer of the time.

Paul Thomas Anderson has never found himself anchored to a specific style in any of his films. He's tackled turn of the twentieth century capitalism with There Will Be Blood; a quirky, artistic romantic comedy in Punch-Drunk Love; and even examined the golden age of porn in the 1970's with Boogie Nights. Phantom Thread is something entirely different from anything else Anderson has done before now, or that has even been seen in modern cinema for many many years. Clear Hitchcockian influences drive Anderson's style in here, with the strange yet fascinating relationship that forms between Reynolds and Alma becoming the psychological center of attention- turning from romantic encounter to downright mental abuse at the hands of both parties. Anderson even drives the classicism of his picture a step further by enveloping the film in a grainy palette that is reminiscent of other films that were released during that time period. The colors that should appear lush and rich in texture are flushed out in favor of darker hues and black and white aesthetics, denying the audience a more palpable color to intake in order to feel the slowly boiling intensity between the two protagonists at a much greater degree.

Phantom Thread is a tense yet somehow occasionally tender tale of an incorrigible man trapped in his routine becoming slowly transformed by love. But this isn't the kind of love that would or should be able to work in the real world. It's a strange kind of cinematic romance that cycles into downright abuse without remorse, turning a lavish love story into a psychological horror film. The complete turnaround that Anderson takes as his tale progresses into emotional madness is brilliantly portrayed by its two leads, taking in a unique chemistry that rings of classic post-Victorian romances that is rarely seen anymore. If this is truly meant to be Daniel-Day Lewis's final performance, then I couldn't imagine him having ended his illustrious career on a finer note. It's a masterclass of style and storytelling, weaving an intricate characteristic romance that is as fascinating as it is sensational.

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