Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread ★★★★★

this is the first time I have felt so invested in a film and its awards season record since Inside Llewyn Davis.

all of my friends already associated Phantom Thread with me once the trailer dropped (not difficult since I literally yelled THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN re: the reunion of Paul Thomas Anderson, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Jonny Greenwood) and even before I SAW IT. speaking of: I have seen this movie three times in theatres (once with live orchestra, twice in 70mm) in less than two months.

the first time I saw Phantom Thread my phone died so I had to confirm I was gonna be on time for my screening by checking the time on my Macy's receipt from buying a winter coat just before. the second time I saw Phantom Thread I showed up so early that Katie and I couldn't even figure out if we could go into the theatre. the third time I saw Phantom Thread was at BAM with Wordless Music and the LCO playing the score live (which I had been gleefully anticipating for WEEKS) and I LOST MY SHIT ALL NIGHT.

basically every single journal entry I've written in 2k18 has contained a Phantom Thread reference. I have listened to Jonny Greenwood's DELIRIOUS MASTERPIECE of a score almost every day and keep saying weird things like "I'm really in a 'Phantom Thread IV' mood today" aloud. I can't make a request of my friends and family members without it turning into my impression of Reynolds Woodcock’s tenderly stern demand for "a Welsh rarebit, with a poached egg on top, not too runny..." I want to start playing the violin again bc I love the score SO MUCH, which I have NEVER felt about any orchestral piece even when I actively took lessons. my entire internet is full of Phantom Thread sponsored posts (Mark Zuckerberg knows!!!) I am constantly thinking about Paul and Maya Rudolph being my favorite celebrity couple and Paul and Jonny's best friendship/creative collaboration. like, I got my MUM, who NEVER goes to the movies, to want to see this film and even listen to PTA ON FRESH AIR WITH TERRY GROSS just because I won’t shut up about it.

I love all the Film Twitter memes (and weird inside jokes) it's spawned. For The Hungry Boy. Reynolds's breakfast order. BIG-ASS STRINGS. all the New York Magazine articles about Reynolds and Alma's relationship dynamics. THE FUCKING ASPARAGUS. Tiffany Haddish's future PTA collab and the SNL sketch I want where she just plays every role in Phantom Thread. CHIC?!? I HATE THAT FUCKING WORD. the pajamas and a dinner jacket look. at this point in my life I’ve made a million jokes about how much I relate to Reynolds (and all the other Temperamental Male Geniuses I can never be simply because I am a female creator).

wait, this is supposed to be a review of the FILM?!? okay!

every frame of this film is a fucking visual masterpiece, especially when viewed in 70mm. I spent my first viewing RACKED with anxiety from Reynolds and Alma's dinnertime confrontation all the way to the end. I wept when Reynolds saw the vision of his mother in her wedding dress on his sickbed (and here I'd like to add an excellent observation from Jonny Greenwood on deliberately using the top end of the viola's range to get a truly strained, human quality during "Never Cursed", which plays during that scene). the clothes are fabulous: I wish I could watch the fashion show montage every day on repeat. Daniel Day-Lewis is, of course, a revelation. he switches between being terrifying, hilarious, and pathetic on a dime, and as always, I love that I can never feel the weight of his Serious Acting: he’s just existing as a complete character. Vicky Krieps is STUNNING, especially the way she manages to instantly shift between being an ordinary woman in highly unusual circumstances to a radiant and commanding muse without saying a word. I love the balance of humor and drama throughout the film. the entire thing is simply beautiful to look at and listen to: it felt silly for my first impression of this film to just be “beautiful” but it makes sense for something so focused on aesthetics and love.

it gets better on repeat viewings. I love the way DDL falls over onto the wedding dress, and the exact way he says "I don't find that spooky at all, the idea that the dead are watching over us.” Lesley Manville's Cyril is less of a frightening semi-antagonist and more of a wonderfully aspirational friend on a second viewing. Barbara Rose becomes both funnier and more pathetic to me during her brief arc. it’s more apparent how much control Alma has from the beginning, specifically the scene at the country house when she tells Reynolds that he isn’t as tough as he thinks he is during their staring contest. really, it’s clear from the beginning that this is really a story about the fascinating women in this remarkable man’s life. all the jokes in the film are funnier and sharper and brighter to me each time I rewatch it. and despite always knowing how it’s going to end, I still joyfully gasp at the final shot of Reynolds, his head in Alma’s lap, telling her that he’s beginning to feel hungry again.

I love that food and hunger are always at the heart of the film: Alma and her loudly buttered toast, the deliberately noisy way she pours a pitcher of water or tea, Reynolds's rejection of butter, the previously mentioned breakfast and asparagus scenes. I find it interesting how many of the film's scenes take place over a meal or in the kitchen (either at home or out on the town) and what these scenes say about the desire for control in Reynolds's life. from the moment he wipes off Alma's lipstick at dinner in the countryside and his preference of oil to butter, to his grimace during her loud eating on their honeymoon and his final utterance of "kiss me, my girl, before I'm sick" over the climactic mushroom omelette, the power struggle between the two is always fascinating to watch.

it's funny that I always forget how much of a Paul Thomas Anderson stan I am until he makes a new movie, especially since we share a not-so-beloved alma mater. when I first heard the brief summary of this film (long before any footage or trailers or ANYTHING were released) I was admittedly v. skeptical. I should have trusted the man who adapted Upton Sinclair’s Oil! into one of the greatest films of the 21st century to make something greater than just a silly little film where Daniel Day-Lewis designs dresses.

this wasn’t meant to turn into a personal essay about What Phantom Thread Means To Me, but considering that my post-Oscars email to my mum turned into an essay about how much I love Paul and Maya, I’m not surprised. anyway, this is probably going to be my favorite film I’ll watch in 2018, and I eagerly anticipate screaming “PLAY NEVER CURSED!!!” on repeat when I see Radiohead this summer.

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