Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread ★★½

All the tropes of a Paul Thomas Anderson film filtered through the fussiness of whatever he's been watching lately. You've never seen such meticulous attention to fashioning the frame since the Euro arthouse boom of the mid-60s, all the post-Antonioni offshoots, the psychosexual lightning-catchers, mid-century repression bursting forth from filmmakers who supposedly learned from European classicists like Becker and Ophüls, but, naturally, go rogue. Remember Nichols films? Mackendrick? I don't, and I won't remember Phantom Thread, whose wry, grandiosely romantic anti-climax, its declaration of love, registers as much unity with Anderson's praxis (Does it resemble a Merchant-Ivory romance, if perverted? If only.) as Aronofsky's adoption of arcane mannerisms in mother! registers with his exegesis of worldly suffering. The fact Phantom Thread's romance becomes so satisfying is because his screenwriting skill precedes him. Everything else is purely experiential, a discretely deployed bag of tricks, and, experientially, stultifying.

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