This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
solstrale’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
“Phantom Thread” is unsettling as it is compelling. It does not seem to affect you much while watching it but it starts to really affect you after watching it. At least, that is what I felt. I still can not collect my thoughts properly.
At first, it feels like this movie is about toxic masculinity. But then, things change and it becomes about toxic femininity. I don’t think it’d be fair to only call off the male character, Reynolds Woodcock, here while the female character, Alma, seems to find joy in manipulating him. So, their relationship is toxic. They just poison each other. Reynolds poisons Alma mentally, whereas Alma poisons Reynolds physically and then mentally, as well. Thus, Reynolds the tailor, who tailors dresses, his life and lives of people around him, finally found someone who is tailor-made for him. He is a self-obsessed, selfish, moody, narcissistic and perfectionist dressmaker. His lover Alma just craves for love and attention. It is not like she wants to be desired. It is more like she wants to be needed. She just wants to come in mighty hand. She is scared of losing him. The potential thought of Reynolds not needing her is unbearable for Alma. Reynolds, who clearly has OCD, tries to control everything because he seems like a control freak. But he can’t control his immature lover who seizes control unexpectedly. Therefore, Alma obsesses over him more than he obsesses over her. I guess, obsession and tailoring are contagious, eh? I guess, I can say that Alma, who is turned into a mannequin or a puppet by Reynolds, did beat him in his own game. So, now, who is pulling the strings? Or should I have just said the threads instead of the strings?
The storytelling and the directing are very good. Paul Thomas Anderson did an Oscar worthy job for sure. The cinematography is excellent. The film feels more cinematic rather than claustrophobic. I just have to say that the display and use of mushrooms reminded me of the Beguiled. For a second, I was like, am I watching Sofia Coppola’s movie?
The acting is spectacular. Daniel Day-Lewis does a great job. He gives it all, he gives it his best. It is sad to think that he is going to retire. Maybe, he will go home with an Oscar for the best male actor as a retirement bonus. His co-stars are also pretty good. Especially, Lesley Manville. Although Vicky Krieps delivers a good performance, she remains to be underrated compared to Lesley Manville's performance. I guess, Vicky Krieps is overshadowed by Lesley Manville.
The scores are euphonious. Jonny Greenwood did a remarkable job at composing since those scores carry the spirit of 1950s. I don't know if it is just me but the scores felt like a combination of British, French, German and Austrian tunes to me, even though the film totally feels British.
We have to be thankful for the presence of dazzling haute couture dresses in the movie since they manage to create a distraction from solely focusing on the dysfunctional couple for the whole time. Those dresses are like stress balls. It diminishes level of stress you are going to experience while watching the movie. Therefore, the costume design and the production design are just splendid which provides visual pleasure to the audience. I just can’t decide which one I like better: the dresses or the film?
In short, "Phantom Thread" is an amazing movie with tremendous acting and riveting yet disturbing narrative but it is not the best. At least, it is not my favorite for the Best Picture at Oscars.