PLOT- British fashion designer, Reynolds Woodcock ( Daniel Day Lewis) is known for his rigid habits and intense relationships, but he has met his match, when he falls in love with a waitress named Alma (Vicky Kreips).
LIKE- I absolutely adore Daniel Day Lewis and I had to see his (supposedly) final film before he retires from acting. Say it ain't so Lewis! Grrrr... Phantom Thread is a bizarre and intense film that I saw three days ago and I'm still processing. I did enjoy things about it, but I'm not sure that overall, it was a great film. Seriously, this can't be Lewis' final film. I refuse to accept that!
Let's do performances first: along with costumes, the performances are the best part of Phantom Thread. This is really a three person ensemble film. Lewis plays a genius fashion designer, who can be cruel and careless with his relationships, especially when he is intensely focused on his art. Kreips plays a free-spirited and opinionated woman, who refuses to back down or wilt when Reynold's tries to cut her to the core. Leslie Mannville play's Cyril, Reynold's sister, who is almost more of a spouse to her brother and his greatest confidant. These three characters are locked in an intense power struggle throughout the film, especially Cyril and Alma, who fight for Reynold's attention. Normally, I place the script as the most essential aspect of any film, but this story was messy and it would not have been half as engaging without these marvelous performances. The actors kept me interested, when the story was failing.
The costumes are gorgeous. Phantom Thread is set in London in the 1950's and Reynold's is a top-notch fashion designer, making dresses for royalty. If I could steal the wardrobe from one film, this would be it. Each dress was more fabulous than the next. Loved the costumes and sets for Phantom Thread, certainly the best dressed film of 2017.
DISLIKE- Messy story. Without giving away any specifics, the last ten minutes has a huge twist that was absolutely shocking. It was so shocking that a guy in my screenings shouted "WTF" and everyone in the theater laughed. Alma and Reynolds are among the most disturbed characters that have ever graced a film. They are screwed up people! Early in Phantom Thread, it seems that Reynolds is the one with all of the problems and it is a bit of a delight to watch Alma exact revenge based on his abuse. There is even humor in these situations, such as her defiantly making loud noises at breakfast, something that he can't stand. However, by the end of Phantom Thread, you realize that Alma also has some severe issues and the twist is a uncomfortable, cringe-worthy shock.
The pacing of Phantom Thread is glacial. As I previously mentioned, the performances kept me engaged, but the actual story is not very compelling. It bothered me not knowing what was wrong with Reynolds. I think writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, was trying to imply that Reynolds might have Aspergers, but it didn't quite pan out. Another character quirk, is Reynolds is absolutely destroyed by the loss of his mother and this is mentioned many times, but I was never quite satisfied with the information that I had regarding this situation. I felt that an essential part of the story had been eliminated, that would have explained why his mother's death had such a devastating impact. A deeper context on his mother, would have supported the mothering-role that Cyril had adopted. This unusual brother/sister dynamic wasn't supported by enough context.
RECOMMEND- Maybe. See Phantom Thread for the performances and costumes. Don't expect a great story, but anticipate a bizarre and uncomfortable one!