Paul Thomas Anderson has done it again with his latest masterpiece Phantom Thread. The film is toxic, unpredictable, and distinctive piece of work that freely exercises the seductive use of masculinity.
The film is about a mysterious fashion dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day Lewis) in the 1950s who lives in London with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville). Reynolds whole life is devoted to his work and the art of creation until one day he meets a clumsy young waitress Alma(Vicky Krieps). Intrigued by her gaze and confidence, he invites her to his studio and she instantly becomes his model and full time mistress. Alma’s purpose in Reynolds life becomes purely fictional and the drama arises between the two. He insults, ignores, leaves no room for love, and treats her like a subject. But Alma is different, she helplessly falls for him, and dares to challenge his nonchalant behaviour. Through their aggressive but emotionally powerful love, Woodcock ultimately finds inspiration transformed by love. I don’t want to give too much away by saying how she does it, but I can say it is a twisted but brilliant piece that Anderson adds in between Woodcock’s obsessions of professional work life and personal.
Phantom Thread is a physiological drama that raises the question of having the right balance between personal aspirations vs. sharing a life with another with a profound mysterious love. The evocative film studies how one finds himself through a path of creation, curiosity of sexual intimacy , and his troubled subconscious. Lewis did mention this is his last film ever, but after watching this brilliant film, I do suspect we may be seeing him again in the near future.