Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread ★★★★★

"I didn't know movies were made by people. I thought they were handed down from God."

That's not a quote from this film or something I came up with. It's an excerpt from Greta Gerwig at this year's Director's Roundtable that really stuck with me for some reason. What she was getting at, was trying to convey her almost innocent unfamiliarity and a certain child-like reverence towards the process of filmmaking at a young age. What I'm already struggling to get across, is briefly describing what kind of picture this is, but more importantly, the type of unique response it originates. Essentially, these are absurdly, obsessively, exhaustively carefully thought out, crafted and polished pieces of art that uncommonly drive nearly ethereally unconscious watching experiences.

Hitchcock didn't come to mind once while I was watching. And neither did Daniel Day-Lewis, the Academy Awards, narrative structure, PTA's directing or practically anything else really. All I ever truly felt was this constant, strange, tingling sensation accumulating in my body that was supposedly coming from this lush, deceptively 'slow', lively period romance about a strikingly intense psychological warfare and underlying power dynamics between two people whose passions are mainly exerted through the domineering effect they have on others. If that sounds vaguely recognizable, it's because is sort of the same out-of-body, spellbinding intangible feeling I was associating with the event of seeing such a work in the first place, which I guess could also be like attempting to put into words what falling in (a particular kind of) love might feel like.

It's probably not a coincidence that the only other movie that ever caused this inner supernatural furor (to this degree, at least), was another fashionably rendered costume drama that seemed to be exclusively interested in a couple's relationship, their apparent susceptibility to tragedy/heartbreak, and that was astonishingly exquisitely shot, scored and performed by masterful artists doing some career-topping work. Something about the heightened aesthetic decoration and the unfathomable hypnotic lure of peeking into the private romantic tension of private people put this on a higher level of seductive distinction that's really hard to get by. The ending is just perfect.

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