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PHANTOM THREAD film review

– By Cate Marquis –


PHANTOM THREAD is a beautiful, seductive drama set in the rarefied world of high fashion in 1950s Britain. Director Paul Thomas Anderson re-teams with Daniel Day-Lewis, his star from 2007’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD, for a absorbing tale filled with mystery, danger and romance made more fascinating by Daniel Day-Lewis’ electrifying performance.

Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a brilliant, successful but eccentric clothing designer who heads his own fashion house in 1955 London, where his clients include royalty, movie stars, heiresses, grand dames and socialites. Woodcock is gifted but he is also exacting, temperamental and ego-eccentric. Gifted and elegant, Reynolds can be charming or eccentric by turns. His sister and business partner Cyril (the wonderful Leslie Manville) takes care of all the practical matters of running the business, so Reynolds can concentrate on the creative. But she also manages the details of his personal life and daily routine, sharing the mansion from which they run their fashion design business. Cyril smooths over the ruffled feathers of clients when Reynolds is too blunt. Hyper-sensitive Reynolds loves routine and carries that over to his personal life, where the handsome confirmed bachelor woos, but never marries, a string of beauties, discarding them as he loses interest. Or, rather, delegating this unpleasant task to his sister.

Into this rigid routine, Reynolds brings a new love interest, Alma (Vicky Krieps), a pretty waitress he meets on holiday. Alma is a working-class immigrant from Eastern Europe with little education but Reynolds is intrigued by her freshness and independence. He sets out to transform her into a fashion model and then lover, as he has done with other women, but Alma proves far different from Reynold’s previous lovers.

One does not have to be particularly interested in fashion to become engrossed in this film.