Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest movie, “Phantom Thread,”
is another memorable work from the auteur.
Daniel Day-Lewis gives his usual tour-de-force
performance, but it’s his costar Vicky Krieps who is the
I personally believe Paul Thomas Anderson is at his best when he
delves into themes of obsession, and “Phantom Thread” (in
theaters on Christmas) is full of that.
Movies like “Boogie Nights,” “There Will Be Blood,” and “The
Master” examine characters driven by desires that will never be
attained. With every achievement reached, there’s another that is
seen on the horizon. It’s their drug of choice: never be
In “Phantom Thread” Anderson uses the character of Reynolds
Woodcock as his latest example. Woodcock is a dressmaker in 1950s
London whose entire life revolves around his obsession of making
the most beautiful dresses he can imagine.
Daniel Day-Lewis plays Woodcock as a soft-spoken man with huge
talent but also a huge ego. He’s created a world where his every
need is taken care of by his sister (played with ice queen
goodness by Lesley Manville) so he can strictly focus on his
work, which is sought after by the most powerful and famous women
in the world. But like every obsession there has to be more. And
that’s where Alma (Vicky Krieps) comes in.
Woodcock plucks her from a countryside tavern she’s waitressing
at and brings her into his world. But first he has to take her
measurements, which he does on their first date. Can she be
worthy of his designs? It’s strictly a formality,
however. His eye has never failed him. He knows this is his muse.
Thus begins a relationship that despite all of Alma’s efforts is
one-sided. The only affection she is given is when Woodcock is
completely exhausted after completing a dress. But it’s those
times that keep her going with the relationship. He is obsessed
with the work but she is obsessed with him. And this is where the
movie takes an unexpected turn that’s as twisted as it is
“Phantom Thread” is as exquisitely crafted as the dresses in the
movie. Its costume and set design instantly suck you into the
setting. And Anderson (who shot the movie himself) pens a dark
love story that’s wickedly funny and offers some of the best
performances of the year.
Day-Lewis gives his usual master class in acting. He plays
Woodcock as a man as driven as Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be
Blood,” but not as psychotic. His bursts of anger are to drive
people away so he can dig deeper into his work. But he’s found
his match in Alma, and Anderson has found a star in Krieps.
Krieps is the movie’s standout. She is up to the task of acting
opposite a legend like Day-Lewis, playing Alma with a feistiness
that energizes the scenes when Woodcock and Alma trade jabs at
one another. And her dry comic timing is one of the movie’s many
highlights. I can’t wait to see more of her work.