Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread ★★★★


Never imagined PTA would make a film that only came together for me in the final minutes, with everything suddenly snapping into place. That's not to say that Phantom Thread isn't weirdly captivating from the jump, what with Woodcock's seduction via breakfast order, Alma's penchant for what can only be called pliant rebellion, and Cyril doing her very best Mrs. Danvers in the background of every scene. (To say nothing of the film's uncredited cinematography, which so perfectly replicates the look of '80s Merchant-Ivory that I'd have sworn it couldn't possibly have been shot in this century had I not known otherwise. 35mm alone doesn't explain it. My thanks to Matt Zoller Seitz for confirming that I'm not insane, that PTA somehow made a truly freakish visual throwback.) Still, as the central duo became consumed by petty bickering, I confess that I started checking out emotionally—a problem exacerbated when, following a welcome bit of high drama, things seemed to just return to square one. By what I mistakenly assumed was the end, I'd sadly concluded that Anderson had, well, lost the thread on this one. Then: SNAP! If The Duke of Burgundy explores a totally mundane relationship through the distorted lens of kinky S&M, Phantom Thread, I realized, does precisely the opposite, which is nearly as least in retrospect. The strife itself nonetheless seemed disappointingly rote while it was happening. Curious to see whether that's still the case on second viewing.

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