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Phantom Thread Review: Seduce and destroy


Throughout his career, Paul Thomas Anderson has made films that are, at least, interesting. Sometimes they demand more than one view to understand what the director was looking for, and they do not always click together, and yet he finds a way to find a unique twist in a traditional drama and distort it with a completely new purpose. His latest film, Phantom Thread has the exuberant and luxurious feel of a Merchant-Ivory production, but boiling beneath the surface there is a dark and twisted story of obsession, seduction and destruction with respect to the artists and their art. Although the film suffers from problems similar to Anderson's recent fare, Phantom Thread remains convincing thanks to captivating performance and exquisite craftsmanship.

Reynolds Woodcock ( Daniel Day-Lewis ) is an esteemed fashion designer who builds exquisite dresses for the wealthiest women in London. His work consumes him, but his sister and confidant Cyril helps him ( Lesley Manville ). Feeling stressed by work and stifled by a former lover, Reynolds heads to the field where he meets Alma ( Vicky Krieps ), a young waitress whose perfect proportions dazzle the fashion designer. They begin a twisted relationship where Reynolds sees her as another living mannequin, but Alma resolves to be more than something easily disposable, no matter the cost.


Image via Focus Features [19659008] Phantom Thread like most of Anderson's filmography, invites numerous interpretations, although it is clear that the themes of His film is mainly about art and genre. Woodcock (the name is not an accident) is surrounded by women: his sister, Alma, her clients and the group of women who make their designs. He is also obsessed with his deceased mother, dreaming of her and reverencing how he taught her his trade. But this dependence on women is also balanced with ingratitude. Woodcock constantly takes all the women in his life, including his clients, of course. He would be lost without them, and yet, perhaps with the exception of Cyril, he treats them as disposable and replaceable.

Alma is sharp enough to read the room and resolves not to be fired so easily, and observing her training with Reynolds is charming and intriguing. Anderson feeds on gender dynamics, what powerful men expect and how women must fight to be treated as essential, either by sheer force of will like Cyril or by cunning as Alma. Although Day-Lewis may be the biggest "name" in the cast, Phantom Thread is actually held by three actors, and the relationship between Reynolds and Alma is the core of the film.

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Image through Focus Features

But where that relationship really caught me was not so much in gender dynamics (although that aspect is fascinating), but how it represents the relationship between the artist and art. If you see the film through the lens of Reynolds as an artist and Alma, its model and its muse, as art, you see how an intriguing theme takes shape over how much an individual's art demands and what a wonderful and torturous process it can be. Anderson shows that giving and receiving at the same time with whims, rejoicing, frustration and cruelty.

These two themes work hand in hand, elevating Alma to something more than a canvas or a symbol and turning it into a person with individual thoughts and goals, even if those thoughts and objectives are always related to their place in the life of Reynolds. The interaction between the themes – genre and creativity – creates a film that is constantly interesting, although not always emotionally moving (although the film is certainly more fun than expected, constantly drawing an ironic sense of humor). It is a problem that Anderson had encountered previously with both The Master and Inherent Vice films that are so hermetic and introspective that they can not breathe.

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Image through the features of the Focus

Fortunately, Phantom Thread is a more pleasant experience than those two movies (it helps about an average shorter time), and thrives thanks to crafts and performances. The film is a wonder to behold, and I would not get objections if I won Oscar nominations for the best costumes ( Mark Bridges ), Best Soundtrack ( Jonny Greenwood ), Best Cinematography ( Anderson), and Best Art Direction ( Denis Schnegg Chris Peters Adam Squires ). As for the performances, Krieps stands firm against Day-Lewis, which means something when Day-Lewis is considered one of the best actors of all time. Manville is a force of nature that has all the power in every relationship, but never flaunts it.

For Day-Lewis, it makes sense why he chose to make this his last performance. Not that it is his best work although he is at the same level of excellence that we have expected from him over the decades (nobody plays a raw nerve like Day-Lewis). In a recent interview with W Day-Lewis said of Phantom Thread : "I know that Paul [Thomas Anderson] and I laughed a lot before making the film, and then we stopped laughing because We were both overwhelmed by a sense of sadness, which took us by surprise: we did not realize what we had given birth, it was difficult to live with that, and it still is. " Because Anderson is not the only artist involved in making this film, and I think Day-Lewis sees a kinship relationship with Reynolds, a man so devoted to his work that he corrupts everything else in his life. Phantom Thread is a story about the toll art has on artists, and Day-Lewis, who gives himself completely to his papers, is well aware of the cost.

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Image via Focus Features

The irony of Phantom Thread is that even though it focuses on the emotional cost of creating art and the selfishness of men (specifically male artists), is not a particularly emotional film. And yet, like a meticulously designed dress, it may not move or breathe, but we still marvel at its exquisite craftsmanship and its impressive design.

Classification: B

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