It's hard to encapsulate why Paul Thomas Anderson is such a captivating director, but perhaps it all comes back to the fact that he writes all of his own projects. It allows him to elevate the production, choosing hand-picked individuals for the wild characters he's crafted, and have control of nearly every facet of the film. The concept of control is a huge aspect of Phantom Thread, and I think that's why he was the perfect man for the job.
Although it may seem understated at first glance, Reynolds Woodcock is one of the most captivating personas Daniel Day-Lewis has taken on to date. As a high-strung dressmaker in London in the 1950s, the perfectionist actor is a natural fit for a perfectionist, as he spirals out of control and into yelling matches and explosive relationships. Every glance, eyebrow raise, and every word has meaning for Woodcock, and the production crew are able to capture it all. Phantom Thread is also riotously funny at times, thanks in part to the talented cast and sharp wit of the script.
Vicky Krieps, Woodcock's main beau during the film, and Lesley Manville, who plays his sister, also deserve all the credit in the world for adding to the allure of Phantom Thread's enigmatic and uneasy feel. It's tough to truly find actors that are able to go toe to toe, blow to blow with Daniel Day-Lewis but they pull it off with flying colors. Beautifully filmed Idyllic plains and exotic trips to the Swiss Alps are commonplace, as Woodcock's luxurious lifestyle is constantly bringing us to new horizons and junctures. The costume design also deserves praise, as each hand-crafted dress gives us another look into the psyche of Woodcock.
I came in expecting was a period piece romance film and instead got something completely out of left field. Paul Thomas Anderson's script takes us to places no one could predict, all while selling us on the idea of an asshole fashion designer who has no idea what he wants at any given time. We're simply unable to look away.
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