“Phantom Thread” is written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville. The film is about a talented dressmaker who finds a young waitress that he begins to fall in love with, while also using her as the muse for his work.
This has been a film I’ve been very excited to see, and that is mostly because of the talent that is involved. Paul Thomas Anderson is always a director that gains a ton of attention, and when you add an absolute legend like Daniel Day-Lewis, especially when it’s his last role ever, of course I will be dying to see the results.
The performances are what I will remember the most from this movie, and it is Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance that shows, once again, why he is among the all-time greats. Day-Lewis gives the character of Reynolds Woodcock so much nuance, and an incredible amount of personality, even with an often-minimalistic level of dialogue. Day-Lewis, as always, completely transforms into this character in every single way, and even when he is cruel and unlikable, it is a treat to watch him do what he does best.
It is never an easy task to be the counterpart to a man like Day-Lewis who requires so much attention, but both Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville bring tremendous performances and are able to stand toe-to-toe with everything that Day-Lewis gives. Krieps is arguably the lead in the film, and she gives a wonderful performance as Alma. Krieps shows restraint and resilience, while also getting a little bit into the mental instability of the character, and her dynamic with Day-Lewis is great, but I found Lesley Manville’s performance to be even stronger. Manville lights up the screen whenever she is given an opportunity, and, by being the brute presence that keeps Day-Lewis and Krieps in line, she is often terrifying, but always exciting to watch.
This is a very well-crafted film, and, while a lot of that is from the precision that Paul Thomas Anderson directs with, the score by Jonny Greenwood is what kept grabbing my attention. Greenwood composes a beautiful score, and one that completely captures the essence and emotion of the characters, and his music often times felt more compelling than the scene that the music is being composed for.
For all the world-class performances and impressive meticulousness put on display, “Phantom Thread” is, above everything else, way less interesting than it thinks it is. For a storyline that is very subdued and incredibly artsy, I don’t think Anderson ever earns the attention or the intrigue that he is hoping for with this movie. Sure, as a spectacle and as a character portrait, there are plenty of things to appreciate. However, as an overall movie-going experience, this is a boring film and one that never picks up the steam that I wanted it to.
The only real flaw with this movie is just how boring it feels, so I’m going to keep talking about how little I cared about the plot. For starters, nearly nothing of note happens, aside from one or two scenes, and it made every great moment of acting feel minute because of the pure dullness of the scenes. I’m not asking for the movie to go over-the-top or to have some dumb action scene, but I have seen hundreds of dramas that are able to capture my attention way more than this slugfest. I also found the “twist” to be strange, but not one that added much of anything to my enjoyment of the rest of the movie.
“Phantom Thread” is a beautiful movie in its aesthetics, and the performances from everyone involved are through the roof, but this movie never captured my attention nearly as much as I would have wanted. Daniel Day-Lewis goes out with yet another tremendous turn, and Greenwood’s score is one of 2017’s best, but man was this a hard film to sit through, and I don’t blame my friend for taking a couple power naps during this overly long, overly uninteresting runtime. This is not a bad movie by any means, but “Phantom Thread” surely was disappointing, and I am left only complimenting performances, and nearly nothing on its pacing or execution.
What did you think of “Phantom Thread”? Comment below with your thoughts.