Phantom Thread

Rated 4.0

It seems the latest film from Paul Thomas Anderson finally did in actor Daniel Day-Lewis. One does get the sense that Day-Lewis tends to kick his own ass when he plays roles. A notorious method actor, he stayed in the role of Abe Lincoln for the Spielberg biopic when cameras weren’t rolling, and he researched heavily for his role as a 1950s dressmaker and fashion maverick in Phantom Thread. That crazy attention to detail most assuredly contributes to Day-Lewis’s tendency to inhabit a role like no other. I maintain that the greatest single performance by any actor anywhere ever is his portrayal of Daniel Plainview for There Will Be Blood, Day-Lewis’s first and best collaboration with Anderson. Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis, amazing yet again) runs a tight ship when it comes to his dressmaking business. He works and lives alongside his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), along with the occasional muse. When his latest muse starts interrupting too much during breakfast, she’s dismissed, and Woodcock goes on the hunt. He finds a new muse in Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress he quickly asks out to dinner, and then back to his place. Rather than pouring some wine and getting to know her better, Woodcock immediately—and literally—puts Alma up on a pedestal and starts building a dress on her. Alma goes from enchanted to mildly bewildered by Woodcock’s actions, but she sticks around and eventually moves in. Alma is not the standard Woodcock muse in that she wants more of his time and wants him to slow down. A scene where Alma hatches a plan for a romantic dinner for two proves to be the best in the film and a turning point in the movie. In the dinner scene’s aftermath, Alma does something that carries the film into the sort of weird, bizarre territory we’ve come to expect in an Anderson film (not quite as wacky as frogs falling from the sky in Magnolia, but still …).