Phantom Thread is the Perfect Sendoff for Daniel Day-Lewis (Review)

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Phantom Thread is supposed to be Day-Lewis’ final film before retiring from acting altogether. Nothing seems more fitting than the acclaimed actor’s final film to be with a director that has made some incredible movies. Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis are a force to be reckoned with in the cinematic world. Separately they have worked on some of the most notable films in the history of cinema. The duo created the cinematic masterpiece There Will Be Blood. Phantom Thread is a film that showcases both filmmakers greatest strengths, and Paul gives Daniel a proper sendoff with a powerful and beautifully shot film.

Reynolds Woodcock is the acclaimed dressmaker in 1950s London.  His meticulous career is uprooted by Alma, a strong woman who fights to become the focal point of his life.

Phantom Thread is a PTA film through and through. It is a period piece that feels entirely accurate for the period it is portraying without feeling dated. The film follows the story of Reynolds Woodcock, one of the most accomplished dressmakers in 1950’s London. It would be easy for a film about dressmaker to be uninteresting, but Paul’s screenplay focuses on the highs as well as the lows a perfectionist of his craft experiences in his professional and personal life.   In the film Woodcock, played by Daniel Day Lewis, says he sews little parts of himself into every dress he makes. He does this literally, but it’s a solid metaphor for the passion an artist has for his craft. He figuratively puts himself into everything he works on.

Paul Thomas Anderson is an accomplished filmmaker. All of his films deal with a wide variety of subject matter, but they are all decidedly Paul Thomas Anderson films. He realizes the heart of the characters in every scenario he creates. This is the bulk of his film, and the setting and details are just flavoring. Most filmmakers could get lost in the details of an oil empire or a dressmaker or a porn star, but PTA realizes what makes these characters human and utilizes that to craft his stories. This is what allows Phantom Thread to be so genuinely good.

The screenplay utilizes this metaphor to the letter. Woodcock is dedicated to his work, and he realizes this about himself. He is unable to dedicate himself to a wife because so much of him is dedicated to dressmaking. Every woman he meets seemingly becomes infatuated with him and desire much more from him as a lover. He gives what he can, but his heart lies with his work. The screenplay wonderfully dictates the pleasures and pains of Woodcock’s relationships with family and lovers related to his craft.

Daniel Day Lewis is as great as ever. He commits himself to the role of Woodcock as much as Woodcock dedicates himself to his dresses. He is an incredible actor to witness. He has played such a wide array of roles so effortlessly; one could believe he is like every character he has played. He inhabits the role of Reynolds Woodcock completely, showing meticulous precision with his dresses, his daily routine, his relationships, and so on. It’s not the best performance of his career, but it is a strong performance nonetheless. Reynolds Woodcock is a well-done performance to cap off the incredible career of Daniel Day Lewis.

While he gives an impressive performance, the real thunder house performance is from Vicky Krieps as Alma, love interest to Woodcock. There is something to be said of the woman who is subordinate to her lover’s career. She knows she will never have his completely undivided attention, but never feels scorned. She knows that at a certain point she is no longer needed, but fights to prove how much better his quality of life is with her around. Krieps wears all of these qualities effortlessly on her sleeve, and her performance is so amazing she almost overshadows Day Lewis in some scenes.

The film is absolutely beautiful. The set design and costumes bring the world of yesterday to life. The dresses are absolutely stunning and feel as if they could be worn in today’s fashion. Every aspect of the production is award worthy. This is Paul Thomas Anderson’s first time behind the camera for a feature length production, and it is clear his eye is what defines his films. The cinematography is top notch and fits right in to the rest of his filmography. There have been many technically impressive films in 2017, and Phantom thread is among the best of them.

Phantom Thread is a proper sendoff for Daniel Day Lewis.  Paul Thomas Anderson has crafted one of the most wonderful films of the year, and it allows for Day-Lewis to deliver a knock out final performance.  He doesn’t overshadow the rest of the cast, and Krieps acts on the same level as Day-Lewis.  The film is impeccably shot, and the production stands to be a serious awards contender.  If this is truly going to be Daniel Day Lewis’ final film, then this is as good as film as any to end on.

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"I'm a cinematographer based in Nashville, TN that specializes in narrative and commercial work. I'm an avid movie fan through and through, so long as there's good lighting"