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Ciné Sunday: Phantom Thread

Paul Thomas Anderson

If Daniel Day-Lewis’ recent announcement that he has retired from acting turns out to be true, then Phantom Thread is a glorious final bow. Reunited with director Paul Thomas Anderson and composer Jonny Greenwood (There Will Be Blood), they have crafted nothing short of a masterpiece. While extraordinary care has been taken with the costumes and period detail, this is a film which is certainly more substance than style, exploring in depth the mysteries of the heart and the complicated power struggle between two people falling in and perhaps out of love.

“…an elegant, complex, and tense drama.”

Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis), a celebrated 1950s London-based dressmaker has, with the help of his determined sister Cyril (the wonderful Lesley Manville), forged a successful design career. Consumed by his work, Reynolds has very few other distractions until one day, shy waitress Alma (Luxembourg-born Vicky Krieps) walks into his life. Smitten and charmed by the ingénue, he introduces her to his glamorous world and she, in turn, becomes his muse.

Playing sometimes like a chamber piece, sometimes like a psychological horror, Phantom Thread is an elegant, complex, and tense drama. All three central players – Day-Lewis, Krieps and Manville – are superb. Indeed, newcomer Krieps, who more than holds her own against a towering talent like Day-Lewis, is a revelation capturing a young woman drawn by, trapped and then liberated by desire.