Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread

A film about two people who always need to have the last word, and how that conflict strings them both along in something resembling a relationship. The best romantic comedy in ages.

Aside from the fire alarm that interrupted the movie five minutes before it ended, I had a wonderful time. It's not PTA's funniest, but I like how he uses humor here to delicately twist the film's conventions in unexpected ways. Until the end you're not quite sure what sort of movie you're watching. A comedic tension hangs over the whole thing, morphing its traditional beats into something stranger. Even when it seems to reveal its hand halfway through, it still has surprises in store.

This tension is maintained mainly by the three stars, all of whom are phenomenal. Their little gestures, furtive glances, piercing stares, the way the script's jabs roll off of their tongues—all of it weaves a taut web where one small move reverberates through everyone and everything. Not much to be said about Daniel Day-Lewis, except that he's going out on top. He never makes Reynolds too wounded or pitiable, even at his lowest. It's a smartly restrained performance. Lesley Manville is killer too, she does so much with just her eyes. The real standout is Vicky Krieps. She's the main reason the movie works as well as it does. She gives Alma an interiority that the script doesn't entirely, and she doesn't hold back on the character's edge for the sake of making her sympathetic.

Phantom Thread is an odd PTA film. It's much mellower than his last three, a crescendo which climaxed in Inherent Vice. Here he's taken a step back, relaxed a little. The bursts of energy and disorder that characterized those previous films are few and far between. He used to made order out of chaos, and here he brings the chaos into order. It's not a turn I expected from him, but I loved it.

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