Paul Thomas Anderson just makes better movies than most directors. From the very first shot of Phantom Thread, the entire production, the framing of scenes, the costumes, the actors, everything looks magnificent. The main driving theme of the film is about living life in a flawless manner, which comes directly from the personality of the main character, a man of impeccable taste- Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis). He is a famous designer at the center of British fashion, dressing Hollywood stars, royalty, and the filthy rich with the finest garments that their status can buy. The life of someone with such perfection is fancied with deep thoughts and delicious breakfasts, prepared by his patient sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), while women come and go in his life. Some inspire, others test his demeanor, but when he meets the lovely Alma (Vicky Krieps), his pure lifestyle will be turned around in this tortured love story of pristine perfection.

Phantom Thread

Much like Paul Thomas Anderson's other films, Phantom Thread is a balance of both love story, drama, and horror. Yes, I said horror. In There Will Be Blood or The Master, Anderson manages to mix the human complexities of life into each character, which evoke emotions of fear and laughter from the audience. Make no mistake about it, there's a dark humor in a story about a man who is so intense about being perfect, you can't help but laugh at his insanity. Sometimes Reynolds is charming, his initial love for Alma arrives because he sees her as the perfect specimen to wear his clothes, but the other side of his coin is a man of extreme taste. Alma discovers this quickly, on display in a scene where she oh so rudely butters her toast loud. She's a tough cookie and will not let Reynolds push her around. Their love is a challenging kind of love, where what they reap is what they sew.

As reported, Daniel Day-Lewis said that Phantom Thread was his final performance as an actor. If this is true, it is literally and figuratively a perfect way to go out. It is certainly not the flashiest performance of the 3-time Oscar winner's career, but it's another great success because he melts into the character. Reynolds makes the seamstresses tremble with fear when he walks into the room to view their work. He is a man of routine, filled with prompt meals and brisk walks. Cyril continues to have a watchful eye in the background, stoic in her demeanor, standing by, waiting to clean up after the next girlfriend who makes a minor mistake. With spectacular costumes from Mark Bridges and a gorgeous score from Jonny Greenwood, everything lies together, as the setting remains a place of flawlessness.

Anderson not only wrote and directed Phantom Thread, but he has also shot on a beautiful 70mm, which allows the textures and colors to pop on the screen. With the setting's set perfectly, it makes for a lot of fun to watch where this love story will go. What begins as a fancy affair, turns into a strange game, played between two lovers that challenge one another. Some might despise Reynolds, as his treatment of Alma becomes rude. Others will be shocked at the depths Alma will go to show her “love” for this man. It's hard not to compare Phantom Thread to a movie like Blue Valentine or oddly similar to Steve McQueen's Shame. There is a slight sickness to this love story. It's weaved together like a coat of many colors.

Is Phantom Thread one of the best movies of 2017? It's without a doubt. Paul Thomas Anderson is an artist unlike many other. He has managed to make films of all shapes and sizes, yet each one is his. The performances from Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, and Vicky Krieps is a trio of expert work. As we pull the various strings that hold together this complex story, we reveal more layers of what makes the artist tick. Phantom Thread is a masterpiece and a movie I would love to wear.


Written by: Leo Brady