“Steve Jobs with a Needle and Thread”
A Review of "Phantom Thread” by Nathan H. Box
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, Writer: Paul Thomas Anderson, Starring: Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville
Rating: 4 Stars, SHOWTIME
Set in 1950's London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover.
There aren’t many guarantees in this life. Perhaps the only things you can count on for sure are death and taxes. After seeing “Phantom Thread,” I would like to propose a new bankable guarantee. Here it is… If Daniel Day-Lewis is going to appear in your film, prepare yourself for a master class on the craft of acting.
In Lewis’ Oscar-caliber performance, we meet Reynolds Woodcock, a man of fine precision, routine, and unbelievable creativity. The only person I could compare his character to is Steve Jobs except with a needle and thread. Woodcock is also a tortured man and artist. For him, love is second hand and always takes a backseat to the attention required to create stunning and exquisite dresses.
Thankfully, we Woodcock has a sister named Cyril played by Lesley Manville. Her roles in Reynolds’ world are varied. She plays bodyguard, emotional counsel, and conduit to the outside world. More than anyone else she understands her brother’s genius and the plight that comes with it.
Then, we meet Alma played by Vicky Krieps. She is a waitress from the English countryside who immediately captures the attention of Reynolds. She is whimsical, playful, and charming. Instantly, there is a bond between them that leaps off the screen. From their first interaction, it is as if they are being sewn together in some magical combination but knowing our lead as well as we do, we know this isn’t going to end well.
Why? Because Mr. Woodcock is a most unlikeable man, set in his ways, and still hasn’t learned how to put people above his craft. Alma, on the other hand, pulls people into her orbit, values relationships, and has something to contribute to almost everything she touches. At points in this movie, they are like competing hurricanes heading toward one another. When they collide, it is violent and painful. Yet, they share a linked life.
Repeatedly, Reynolds discovers his need for Alma. It first begins with an illness and only intensifies with each additional episode. In the big reveal, we discover why the dependence exists. When it happens, it will shock you and leave you questioning. Which is exactly what I craved from a movie such as this.
Be good to each other,
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