Phantom Thread is the final proof that Daniel Day-Lewis’ imminent retirement from acting is the biggest loss the film industry has seen this century
Phantom Thread is the final proof that Daniel Day-Lewis’ imminent retirement from acting is the biggest loss the film industry has seen this century. There is no one quite like Day-Lewis as he manipulates and mesmerises through his infinitely intricate performances. This is naturally enhanced by Paul Thomas Anderson, a director that truly understands how to enthrall and engage an audience over and over again. The pair, after winning Academy Awards with There Will Be Blood, have put together a piece that is not just heavily layered but also utterly absorbing.
Fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is notoriously difficult to please, and as his current relationship begins to falter, his mind becomes far too distracted to concentrate on his work. When out for breakfast one morning, Reynolds meets a young waitress, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who captures his imagination and as the pair grow to love each other, their complex personalities become vital to their cohabitation.
Due to Anderson imagining a small corner of London in such distinct detail, Phantom Thread comes across with all of the depth and power that was intended. Reynolds is the key to the whole picture and his personality allows for the film to flow in the manipulated way that it does. The fight between Reynolds and Alma, often subtle and understated gives the film its quiet ferociousness.
Despite this, the pair’s passionate love engages the audience in a substantial way, and however fickle Reynolds comes across, his true understanding of perfection is what makes him the man he is. It is this intricacy of personality, matching the delicate nature of dressmaking, that gives Phantom Thread its vital depth. Daniel Day-Lewis is there to imagine that in a particularly naturalistic way, and Vicky Krieps’ Alma is there to rip everything apart. Piece by piece.
Phantom Thread is sure to offer more depth and more understanding with each watch, and its true ambiguity comes from Reynolds’ perpetual need to analyse and understand everything himself. The film is there to tell Reynolds story, but however much it broadcasts his thirst for power and his need for control, the women in his life are the ones who make him the man he is every step of the way.