Starring: Daniel Day Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville
Directed By: Paul Thomas Anderson
Plot: Mr Woodcock (Day-Lewis) is an esteemed dressmaker whose pieces are worn by royalty, the wealthy, and the elite. His life is turned upside down when he meets Alma (Kriebs), who becomes his muse…then his lover.
What Works: I was oddly captivated by this film. I have to admit, it took me a while to formulate my thoughts on this. I’ve been trying to figure out what the grade should be for this film because I have so many different feelings about this film. First off, it’s fucking beautiful. Paul Thomas Anderson has made some amazing films, and has always had a great look to them, but none as visually stunning as this. it’s a feast for the eyes.Everything from costume design to cinematography deserves attention also thought the film had an incredible score and sound design. There’s a way that Anderson pulls out certain sounds so the audience is affected by the clanging of a tea cup, or the buttering of bread.This film is so well directed that even though I wouldn’t consider nominating it for Best Picture, I’d still consider Anderson for director. He managed to keep a rather mundane film interesting the whole time. Yes, the acting is fine, but if we’re being honest, there are like 10 Daniel Day Lewis performances better than this one. He’s fine. Manville is fine. Kriebs is… meh.
What Doesn’t Work: Kriebs delivers all her lines the way a foreign actress typically does in their English language debut. I’m assuming it isn’t her first language, because everything is very flat and unpunctuated. My biggest problem, though, is that this film is rather dull from a plot and story standpoint. Not much happens. I never really cared for the characters or the story, and nothing really interesting happened. I was still engaged, because the film is so well shot, but I was aware that nothing was really happening. That’s why I’ve been so torn. How do I grade a dull film that was shot really well?
Final Word: In the end, I somehow enjoyed Phantom Thread, and it’s been on my mind for days. I think this is a film that will fly under the radar, and people will find it and talk about it 10 years from now. It’s an interesting piece of filmmaking, just not of storytelling. I doubt it’ll shake up the Oscars too much this year, outside of a few technical categories where it deserves consideration.
Final Grade: B+