Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread ★★★★★

In an attempt to not repeat what others have already said about this film, I’m just going to address a minor moment that I haven’t really seen or heard other people talk about. 

There is a key moment in Boogie Nights where Jack Horner, a porno filmmaker, is informed that he must switch from shooting his movies on film to shooting them on video. Horner responds to the news with anger and the spectator (as well Horner himself) gets the sense that everything is about to change.

In The Master, a film that one could argue is entirely about change, there is a scene during which the manipulative cult leader Lancaster Dodd is confronted about a change of phrasing in his upcoming book by a lady named Helen Sullivan. Sullivan asks Dodd why he changed a phrase from “can you recall” to “can you imagine”. Having difficulty coming up with an answer Dodd loses his temper and accidentally yells at her publicly. Although the implications of this scene are totally different from the implications in the scene from Boogie Nights, it is still worth noting

This theme of change pops up throughout PTA’s filmography. In The Master, the change mentioned above is used to mark the dark transition of Dodd’s scientology-esque self help group, “The Cause”. In Boogie Nights, change is used to give off the feeling that something special has just been lost. Something that we likely won’t be able to get back. 

In Phantom Thread, this moment of change is not nearly as pivotal as it is in Boogie Nights and The Master, but it is there. Toward the end, the film’s protagonist, Reynolds Woodcock, is told that one of his clients has decided to hire someone else to make her a dress. This scene introduces the idea of “chic” in fashion. Outraged by the concept entitely, Woodcock replies, “FUCKING CHIC?!” At this moment Woodcock is totally conscious that style has an expiration date and ultimately so does he. Things come and go, people die, and the dresses that he so delicately and lovingly crafted will all eventually become ash.

Seen in 70mm

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