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Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 3 years ago

'Phantom Threads' explores the complexities of control over others

Daniel Day-Lewis shines in what he's saying is his final role before retirement.

"Phantom Thread" is a film about love and just how far one couple goes to rekindle lost passion. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis, who once again demonstrates that he is the greatest living actor in the business.

Day-Lewis portrays Reynolds Woodcock (a name he personally chose), a renown couturier in 1950s London. He's meticulous, insufferable and obsessive. He and his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville), who's arrogant and domineering, run the business which attracts very high-end clients. Reynolds prides himself on being a confirmed bachelor until he meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), a seemingly shy waitress with whom he falls in love and marries.

As their relationship evolves, it's quite evident that Reynolds was cut out to be a bachelor. Alma's behavior, which he once found charming, is now an annoying distraction for him. It gets to the point one morning at breakfast, as Alma is buttering her toast, Reynolds observes, "It's as though you rode a horse across the room." His former lover and muse has now become an obnoxious side kick. 

Daniel Day-Lewis insists that this is his last film before retiring from acting.

But Alma is no fool. In a totally unexpected, twisted turn the film takes a dark detour. To elaborate any further would be a severe spoiler. 

Paul Thomas Anderson serves as writer (along with Day-Lewis), director and cinematographer in this elegant and thought-provoking film. His unconventional love story delves deeply into all of his character's complicated psyches. The vast attention to detail and beautifully shot camera angles are stunning. Symphonic scoring by Jonny Greenwood and costumes designed by Mark Bridges further enhance the extraordinary viewing experience.

Day-Lewis and Krieps are a perfect match in "Phantom Thread." To hold your own on screen with Day-Lewis is an amazing accomplishment at which she excelled. As for Day-Lewis, he manages to get into character as no other actor can. In preparation for his role he learned to sew and actually re-created a Balenciaga dress. He comments that, "The responsibility of a creative life is both a curse and a blessing," in reference to Woodcock's life. But it sounds very much as though he's referring to his own as well.

"Phantom Thread" explores the complexities of control over others, one's work and oneself. It's a masterpiece and if it's Daniel Day-Lewis' last film (which he insists), it's a shame.

Note: The film is dedicated to the late Jonathan Demme, Anderson's close friend and mentor.   

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