Phantom Thread (2017): Paul Thomas Anderson’s World of Colorful Fashion

PTA Marathon Part III of IV, 2nd Viewing 

The main character, Mr. Woodcock is just me but when I talk about movies with others. Ha! 

Elegant, ambitious, driving—literally, those car driving shots are f***ing exquisite—and a calming rendition of the “passion versus romance” catastrophe, Paul Thomas Anderson’s color-bleeding Phantom Thread is a design that was made for the geeky, arthouse connaisseur. This, in playful terms, is sort of Paul Thomas Anderson’s indie-ish/A24-ish debut in cutesy alterations.

Yet, I think that’s also why it’s one of my least favorites of his? It’s worked up in concept and style but is limited and more obvious in dissection with its subliminal thematics, which is paradoxical to many of his other more multilayered and rough-hitting feature-lengths… Which, by the way, is totally fine; a movie can be standard in substance and still be ravishing, it’s just that this weave of method doesn’t necessarily make it superior to Paul Thomas Anderson’s other magnificent projects. 

Daniel Day-Lewis masterfully (duh) portrays a paranoid figure (AKA, Reynolds, AKA, Mr. Woodcock) like no other in this unusual romantic tale. He’s an obsessed dressmaker with an unspoken case of OCD, exclaiming his spontaneous tendency to nit-pick even the smallest matters as long as it’s coming from anyone but himself. The unwritten and written rules of how he maneuvers in satisfaction, though, are what makes his character such a fascination to study over and debate about. His insistence on sewing memories or significant pieces into the designs of his work to carry their existence endlessly also makes his presence such a mystery to haunt over. Day-Lewis’s performance and character in Phantom Thread couldn’t have ended off his legendary career any better in my humble opinion. 

Alma, played by the charming Vicky Krieps, has a desire for Day-Lewis’s peculiar character, however; a desire that, at first, never fleshes out in total reason. Anderson’s film inexplicably decides to not inform us of where she mentally came before she met Reynolds, and I believe it could’ve justified her initial ambitions with her soon-to-be lover a little better. The movie sort of just places Alma abruptly into the swing of Reynold’s life without natural or concrete reasons, just with a sort of dreamlike feeling. However, in the movie’s favor, as Alma begins to transform into basically “Reynolds 2.0” and furthermore even dethrones her lover’s dominance, that’s when Alma becomes this terrifically expressive character that debatably overrules Phantom Thread’s other ambitious messages hidden within the motion picture. I like to view her as this shy persona who utilizes Woodcock’s unpleasant control and egotism as motivational means to make herself a more confident and determined individual that can learn to love successfully.

On this rewatch, shockingly, I did actually come around to appreciating the quote on quote “twist” significantly more. Without spoilers, Phantom Thread does take an interesting jab at the well-known memo, “it truly does take suffering to fully appreciate the people who surround your everyday life.” It’s certainly a message that has been done and said before countless times, sure, but never like this before with such scandalous events. As they say, it sometimes takes a tragedy for one to finally love sincerely.

On second viewing, nonetheless, I did, unfortunately, notice a few out of place, trite minor characters and some very avoidable scenario instances that are both poorly tossed into the movie to stir up artificial conflict, and once again, I didn’t find the story at hand to be that flabbergastedly impactful—it’s more wholesomely tingly than unforgettable—but other than that, there’s little to dislike about Phantom Thread

In terms of its visual technicalities, it’s damn well ideal for a project plastered with fashion. The crew really does outdo themselves with their choices of color within the set and costume designs. The dialogue here, once again, furthermore proves Anderson as not only one of the greatest directors of all-time but one of the greatest writers in the history of mankind. And, Jonny Greenwood’s score… Man who am I kidding, of course his score was sharp stuff! Dude hardly has a dent in his career! It’s time to face it, Phantom Thread is just such an exceptional movie no matter where I place it on my PTA ranking! Go easy on me, fellas.  

Verdict Change: A- —> B+ 

Paul Thomas Anderson Ranked 

“Phantom Thread” is now available to stream on YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, and Amazon Prime.

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