Film Review: ‘Phantom Thread’ Charms with Fiery Performances from Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville

In an evolution of narrative explorations seen in today’s entertainment climate, it’s impressive to see someone like the exceptional Paul Thomas Anderson examining different areas of life as seen in his newest venture “Phantom Thread.”  Gluing together a marvelous cast of actors that includes three-time Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville, plus constructing a damn near perfect technical team, “Phantom Thread” is a mesmerizing and hypnotic exposé of the fashion world.

Phantom Thread,” tells the story of Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis), a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Krieps). She becomes his muse and lover against the backdrop of 1950’s London. Examining their relationship, along with his sister Cyril (Manville), Reynolds’ world drastically changes.

In his supposed final screen role, Daniel Day-Lewis is majestically exuberant as he settles into a man who is not too likable, but undoubtedly a genius. As we have become accustomed to Day-Lewis being fiery and ferocious as seen in “There Will Be Blood,” “Lincoln,” and “Gangs of New York,” this role is a bit more subdued. It mimics a male version of Miranda Priestly blended with a Mike Leigh touch.  He enchants, as his words become magic, casting his spell over his audience.

Lesley Manville — who has already proved her brilliance in films like “Another Year” — is riveting as the dynamic sister, harnessing the inner anguish yet protection of her creative brother.  Vicky Krieps holds her own as the devilish yet compassionate muse to Reynolds. Developing a systematic love that encapsulates both resentment and adoration, Krieps manages to portray an array of different emotions. They ultimately all add up to an impressive outing for the 32-year-old actress.

The stars of the film are behind the scenes as Jonny Greenwood produces perhaps his most compelling and inspiring score of his career. If eligible, he may have wrapped up his Oscar nomination (and possibly win) with his intoxicating chords. Same goes for costume designer Mark Bridges, who creates flourishing characters out of cloth.  Anderson knows how he wants his films to look and feel, as he plays the role of cinematographer, creating a smooth hue that is palpable in almost every frame.

Phantom Thread” permeates with an ability to offer self-reflection about the lessons in which it’s trying to teach.  It’s deliberate in its drama and undeniable in its effectiveness of virtually every viewpoint of its production.  Its witty script and eye-candy garments are smolderingly sinister in the way it packs an emotional punch throughout.

Phantom Thread” is a gem as it saturates with class, banter, and a refreshing mood.

It’s definitely not as hard to like as “Inherent Vice” but not as “coherent” as something like “Boogie Nights”. Anderson has found his power in the writer’s room, showing the world an unbridled approach at the human condition, and not needing the normal theatrics for the energetic satire that he is exploring.

“Phantom Thread” is distributed by Focus Features and opens in theaters on Dec. 25 in limited release.

GRADE: (★★★½)

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MOTION PICTURE | DIRECTOR |
LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE |
PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS |
ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG |
FOREIGN LANGUAGE | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE |