Film

Phantom Thread (Film Review) – Strange and Unrewarding

Phantom Thread is a drama written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis in what is, supposedly, his final performance as an actor before he retires. The cast of the film also includes Brian Gleeson, Harriet Sansom Harris, Camilla Rutherford, Richard Graham, Vicky Krieps and Lesley Manville.

The story of Phantom Thread is set in 1950s London and focuses on Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), a dressmaker who falls in love with waitress Alma Elson (Vicky Krieps). However, the relationship they have swings from affection to detachment throughout the film due to their differences.

My Knowledge and Expectation of Phantom Thread

Any film with Daniel Day-Lewis is going to interest me. I mentioned in my review of The Post that Meryl Streep is the best actress of all-time. I can make a similar argument in regards to Daniel Day-Lewis being the best actor of all-time. He has been nominated for six Oscars in the category of Best Actor and is the only male actor to ever garner three wins in that category. This is an outstanding achievement given how difficult is to get nominated for an Oscar, let alone win one.

Vicky Krieps as Alma Elson and Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread

In every film I have seen Daniel Day-Lewis in, he gives outstanding performances and the best of these performances was in There Will Be Blood. That film was also directed by Paul Thomas Anderson so to have these two reunite for Phantom Thread was an exciting prospect me. Phantom Thread was, to some, a surprise nomination for Best Picture. Out of all the nominees for Best Picture at the 2018 Oscars, only The Post has made me feel as though it was a film deserving of its nomination. I hoped that Phantom Thread would do the same.

My Thoughts on Phantom Thread

My feeling after seeing Phantom Thread was one of disappointment. I did not really like this film that much. It is not a terrible film but I do not believe it is a film which, on the whole, is that good either. Good elements, however, do exist within Phantom Thread. For one, the performances are superb.

While I do believe that this is the least captivating performance Daniel Day-Lewis has given in any film I have seen him in, he was great in Phantom Thread as were Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps. They all managed to convey the subtle toxicity within this film quite well, especially in the relationships between the characters which were completely messed up.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock and Vicky Krieps as Alma Elson in Phantom Thread

The score in Phantom Thread, which was composed by Jonny Greenwood, was very good and I was surprised at how prevalent it was throughout the film. It seemed as though it was continuous, like it never ended which was something that impressed me. The production value in this film was its biggest quality in my opinion. I absolutely believed that I was living in London’s fashion scene during the 1950s. It was a technical quality of Phantom Thread I was mesmerised by.

The Negative Aspects of Phantom Thread

Nevertheless, all of the good elements in Phantom Thread did not alleviate the amount of problems I have with the film. For one, the story of the film failed to rivet me from beginning to end. I have to put the blame on the pacing and editing for this. The editing was noticeably sudden at times which affected how well the film flowed and the pacing was too slow for a film as long as Phantom Thread.

While surprising moments of humour kept me slightly engaged in what, for me, were the more ponderous scenes and sequences in Phantom Thread, I could not help becoming more bored by what was happening onscreen as the film progressed. I also felt that the ending of Phantom Thread was completely unearned. It did not sit right with me and I was sitting during the credits thinking “WTF?”.

Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock in Phantom Thread

I was not loving Phantom Thread before its final moments and what occurred at the end just cemented this film as being a let-down. Again, Phantom Thread is, for me, another Best Picture nominee from the 2018 Oscars which is not worthy of its nomination. Certain elements of the film are deserving of praise but, as a whole, the film failed to deliver. As such, I cannot recommend Phantom Thread as a film that needs to be seen immediately.

Phantom Thread Film Review Pin

 

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