Reynolds Woodcock is a famous fashion designer and dressmaker in 1950’s London. He dresses many ladies from Europe’s royal families as well as the wealthy elite. He’s also a confirmed bachelor, going through women like discarded clothing. One day while traveling in the country, he meets a young waitress at a café and is instantly taken with her. They begin a whirlwind relationship as she moves into his house and is immediately confronted with Reynolds’ sister Cyril. It is she who captains the ship and the strong-willed Alma finds herself a worthy adversary. The relationship evolves, covering miles of bumpy road before they finally marry. Still not satisfied, Reynolds and Alma find a bizarre way of coping with their differing personalities.
2017, Color, Rated R, 2 Hrs 10 mins
DTS:X, Master Audio 7.1, 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
Phantom Thread was nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, and I can see why. It’s just the sort of thing that goes opposite the typical Hollywood CGI-filled blockbuster. It’s a quiet little film about a few self-absorbed people and their pathetic attempts to get along. While Reynolds may be a master artist, he’s also insufferably obnoxious. At one point, Alma asks, “What am I doing here?” Coincidentally, I asked myself the same thing. The movie doesn’t follow a traditional narrative. Instead, it’s a collection of sketches that advance the story of the relationship but accomplish little else. It’s beautiful to watch at times but I wouldn’t call it entertaining. Daniel Day-Lewis is mesmerizing as always and I was sad to read this might be his last film. He is a truly gifted actor. If you’re a fan of British period drama, Phantom Thread is at least worth a rental.
The image is sharp and detailed but somewhat muted in color. I’m sure this is intentional given the period depicted, but I’d love to have seen more color if only to highlight the beautiful clothing. That is a missed opportunity because the film has a grayish palor that pervades throughout. Contrast is a bit flat as well, never descending to the deepest blacks.
Audio is sublime with delicately-treated dialog and subtle yet effective ambient sound. Music is used sparsely but is there when needed.
Bonus features total about 25 minutes and include an interesting look at camera testing in which the director considers different film stocks. You also get a narration to go with the film’s fashion show sequence and a few deleted scenes.