Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread ★★★★★

There is a lot to digest here. In Daniel Day-Lewis' presumed swan song, Phantom Thread concerns the grandiose epicenter of post-war couture. Day-Lewis is a tyrannical dressmaking artist who falls in love with a young waitress made muse and live-in model played by Vicky Krieps. They antagonize each other and strike a creepy and odd power balance. You probably fell asleep at the mention of "dressmaking", yet somehow Paul Thomas Anderson has crafted another benchmark of modern cinema.

One's enjoyment of the film is contingent on how much patience they have for the characters. Day-Lewis' character is a stuffy and, I hate to say it, pretentious man who demands to be coddled and worshiped in a protective bubble of sycophants and servants. The key to his heart is to be challenged, and Krieps fills that emptiness in him, forging a symbiotic relationship that hurts them and spurs them both on. On paper this might not seem very compelling, yet the performances from Day-Lewis, Krieps, and especially Lesley Manville are so strong and so compelling, they fascinate despite the fact that it's about a subject that I couldn't care less about.

It is no surprise that the cinematography and production design are absolutely astounding. For someone completely unconcerned with fashion or fashion history, the dresses are dazzling. There are several mundane moments in the story where someone will just be walking out amidst a rapturous landscape, and even though I've no clue what it's like, it certainly feels like 1950's London. It's enough to make me pine for a 70mm screening of the film, none of which are near me. 4K will do for now, but I think it should be noted that much like Anderson's other period-set epics There Will Be Blood and The Master one should watch the film in the highest resolution and quality available.

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