Leaving a screening of Phantom Thread recently, I couldn’t help wondering what the point had been. It’s lovely to look at, with gorgeous costumes (Daniel Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a British fashion designer creating haute couture for the moneyed and titled in 1950s London). The cast are all wonderful — Day-Lewis vanishes into his character as remarkably as ever; Lesley Manville is superb as Woodcock’s long-suffering sister; and Vicky Krieps is natural and engaging as Alma, Woodcock’s paramour.
Why should I expect there to be a reason, some sort of moral lesson, for this film to exist? I don’t require that of a genre film — the pleasure of a good story, well told, is enough for me when it comes to a mystery, or a thriller, or a superhero yarn. To me, a movie like Phantom Thread is like literary fiction; I expect there to be some larger reason for the story being told. Unreasonable, perhaps, but there you have it. Phantom Thread is a beautiful film about two people involved in a massively dysfunctional relationship. If you’re a Day-Lewis fan (and who isn’t?), then do go see this marvelous performance in what he says will be his last role.
“It’s comforting to think the dead are watching over the living. I don’t find that spooky at all.” — Phantom Thread