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Phantom Thread Movie Review

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This is it. This is the final movie from Daniel Day-Lewis. I personally think that Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the top three greatest actors of all-time, and there’s a strong case to be made that he’s number one. He’s also teaming up with Paul Thomas Anderson. The last time the two teamed up for a film, Day-Lewis gave arguably the best performance of this millennium, so it’s hard not to be excited. Even though I love Boogie Nights, I’m not the biggest Paul Thomas Anderson fan, but I can’t deny that he’s a phenomenal director, so with that said, let’s finish off 2017 with Phantom Thread!

Phantom Thread is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville. The film centers on Reynolds Woodcock, a world-renowned dress-maker who meets Alma, his muse and eventually his love interest. Life seems to be different with Alma as Woodcock’s expectation of silence and perfect routine is broken, and the unease slowly starts to eat at his relationships and his life.

While I have to start the review by saying that this isn’t exactly my cup of tea, I have no doubt that it will be someone’s, but it sure isn’t mine. Paul Thomas Anderson is a master filmmaker, and every single shot is composed so beautifully. Phantom Thread is breathtakingly gorgeous, and the costume design is excellent. The elegant dresses, the classy suits, the gowns, and the party outfits all perfectly sold this story world. There wasn’t a second that felt out-of-place from a visual perspective. The set design and locations were fantastic, and Paul Thomas Anderson clearly had a vision for this film. Daniel Day-Lewis is also incredible. He’s transformative in this role, and I think that he is the only actor in the world who could have sold this setting and this meticulous, fastidious, routine-oriented character. He and Paul Thomas Anderson understand each other. It’s a beautiful thing when a director finds his or her muse and has the ability to completely alter the persona of the actor to become a character that feeds a story. Vicky Krieps is also spectacular in the film. She and Day-Lewis have something that defies chemistry. The relationship between the two characters is bizarre to say the least, but the way the two are able to make it seem naturally constructed is impressive.

Again, this movie is not for me. I recognize that it will please a lot of movie-goers, it will be nominated for Oscars, and it will be recognized as a great film in the future. As a person giving an opinion on the film, I had a very difficult time finding a protagonist in the movie. There are main characters, but I struggled to find a character I could get behind or care for, and I wasn’t very invested in their relationships. I didn’t find much of an arc in any of the characters either. There is an interesting arc in the relationship between Woodcock and Alma, but I thought it came without reason or depth. I also don’t particularly care for the story. I think it’s lacking a lot of drama and conflict. There is a conflict, but it’s not compelling enough for me to have an active interest in the resolution. In the trailer for the film, there are multiple moments that led me to believe that they would come at points of high tension. I didn’t ever feel that tension. The love story is off-putting enough for it to be interesting for one watch, but story-wise, I don’t see Phantom Thread as a must-watch. It falls toward the middle of the pack with top-of-the-line filmmaking and little to say narratively.

Overall, Phantom Thread is not for me. It’s technically brilliant, and the performances are Oscar-caliber, but I found it lacking both a protagonist and drama. I was hoping for points of extreme tension, as relationships tend to have, but I think that Phantom Thread lacks in that department. But maybe that’s the beauty of Phantom Thread. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe the film is only meant to put these characters and these relationships on display. For me, that’s not enough. Nevertheless, Paul Thomas Anderson has assembled a film that further proves that he’s a master of his craft, and the costuming and production design are second to none when it comes to this year’s Oscar contenders. I’m going to give Phantom Thread a very objective 6/10.

Will you be seeing Phantom Thread? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm