Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread ★★★★★

After There Will Be Blood, Phantom Thread was my second PTA last year and I followed the former with the latter due to the DDL common point, but the latter turned out to contain more points in common with the former. To put it simply, Phantom Thread is the mid-20th-century version of early-20th-century There Will Be Blood in a sense that the power dynamics between Daniel and Eli are now replaced by love dynamics between Woodcock and Alma and also, Plainview and Woodcock practice the same ideal of "Work is Love". Both Woodcock and Alma try their best to assert their dominance of love over the other with one being non-vocal and the other being vocal and no matter how much they think their love is unconditional towards the other, hiding the fact that everything gets conditional in life including love at times is not as easy as "hiding things in the linings of the garments".

"Well, if you're going to make her a ghost, go ahead and do it." "But, please, don't let her sit around waiting for you." (First things first, Lesley Manville as Cyril Woodcock who initially appears like the housekeeper Mrs Danvers in Rebecca and then all the way From that single powerful stare into the lens To going right through Reynolds without sharing a single stare and warning him that he will end up on the floor in case he picks up a fight with her... what an absolute powerhouse) - I rewatched this film for the sake of completion of my reviews of PTA's features here, but it turned out to be a far more rewarding experience in adding so much to the above thoughts on the first watch. Now that I've already watched Hitchcock's Rebecca and other gothic romances stitched together with their generic threads like grim atmosphere or supernatural context or young protagonists, I realized how Phantom Thread is also in a sense pretty much the same gothic romance with the way PTA has woven the aforementioned threads into the fabric of it by transporting the outside grimness into the minds of his protagonists, the supernatural context of Woodcock being haunted by strongest memories of his mother, presence of an old protagonist and has a Rebecca-esque narration as well. PTA just redesigned the old outfit and the fact that it fits in perfectly even during our times despite its 1950s setting speaks volumes about the everlasting complexity of love and power in relationships!

Just like how ghosts seduce their subjects within no time in those films, here Woodcock in reverse is instantly smitten by Alma and Alma in return gives him a piece of paper with her name written on it where she addresses him as "For the hungry boy" as if supernaturally she has already started seeing the childish boy secretly sewn into the canvas of this adult man's coat within their short interaction itself and fittingly, the rest of the film is all about how she plays the mother to the kid in Woodcock as well as the muse and wife to the man in Woodcock. At times, Woodcock is so courageous in telling the ghost to literally "fuck off", but like all ghosts, this ghost also holds an expertise in holding on to the soul of its subject, not to harm as they all do, but to love him like nobody ever did. There are people like Lady Baltimore around Woodcock trying to poison him by feeding on the basic insecurities in a relationship and the ghost here also tries to kill the man, but this killing is a way of bringing him back to life in helpless, tender manner and making him strong again after poisoning all his "fussy" and arrogant qualities.

On the whole, stitched together with the fine eye-for-detail of its dressmaker as well as the filmmaker, Phantom Thread is truly an exquisite piece of art that pierces your heart and stitches it back together depending on how hopeful you are about love and life!

M S Krishna Prateek liked these reviews