Phantom Thread is a drama written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. This unusual film is about a couturier who takes a young waitress as his muse. I didn’t think this film was Oscar worthy nor did I think it made a whole lot of sense. I did feel the acting was brilliant and the fashions were exquisite.
In 1954 London, renowned fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (Danial Day-Lewis) creates dresses for members of high society. His charisma and genius is matched by his obsessive, controlling personality. Cyril (Lesley Manville) his sister, manages the day-to-day operations of his fashion house and has significant influence over his life. Reynolds is haunted by the death of their mother, and stitches hidden messages into the linings of the dresses he makes to show the artistry of his work.
While visiting a restaurant in the countryside, Reynolds is drawn to a waitress named Alma (Vicky Krieps). After some conversation, he asks her on a date, and she accepts. Their relationship develops, and she moves in with him, becoming his assistant and muse. Cyril initially distrusts Alma but comes to respect her willfulness and determination.
At first, Alma enjoys being a part of Reynolds’ work, but he proves aloof and hard to please, and they bicker. When Alma makes him a romantic dinner, Reynolds lashes out, saying he will not tolerate deviations from the routines he has worked hard to perfect.
Alma poisons Reynolds’ tea with poisonous mushroom gathered outside his country house. As he readies a wedding gown for a Belgian princess, Reynolds collapses, damaging the dress and forcing his staff to work all night to repair it. He becomes gravely ill and has hallucinations of his mother. Alma nurses him back to health and he asks her to marry him. She accepts.
Reynolds and Alma soon start bickering again. As Reynolds feels his work is suffering, he concludes it may be time to send her away. Alma responds by making Reynolds a poisoned omelette. As he chews his first bite, she informs him that she wants him weak and vulnerable with only her to take care of him. Reynolds swallows the omelette and tells her to kiss him.
Where Phantom Thread ends up was unclear to me and I’m not sure it will be any clearer to you. You will have to see the movie to determine if the rest of the story makes sense to you or not. I did not see the fabulous plot noted by other critics or the Academy. As usual, Danial Day-Lewis’ acting was outstanding. It is rumored that this will be Danial’s final role before retiring. Frankly, I was disappointed by this long and drawn out bazaar story that nearly put me to sleep. There were some highs but lots of lows. You’ll have to decide for yourself if Phantom Thread is a worthy movie!
[Phantom Thread is Oscar nominated for BEST: Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actress, Costume Design and Original Score]