There’s no surprise that Daniel Day-Lewis perfectly breathes life into eccentric designer Reynolds Woodcock. His Tim Gunn-like judgement, restrained vocal delivery, and manicured movements create a hectically overly-structured fashion designer. Like many of his previous movies, Day-Lewis was the highlight of Phantom Thread.
Cyril, Reynolds’ sister, played by Lesley Manville, was a great accompaniment though her character went underutilized by PT Anderson. While it was likely intentional to highlight Reynolds’ all encompassing and overbearing masculinity, Cyril’s story was a lost opportunity to add dimension and to humanize Reynolds.
It comes down to the story and for me there wasn’t much there. Certainly not enough to warrant the 2 hour and 10 minute run time. There were too many meandering pockets of scenes that didn’t tell us anything new, though I can understand being infatuated with Day-Lewis’ acting enough to over-stuff a film with his presence. Additionally, the love interest, Alma, was like a bland cracker: it sustained the plot but included no flavor. And if you were hoping for a good mystery hidden in the garments, don’t get your hopes up.
Phantom Thread was worth a viewing, but there wasn’t much depth to explore. If you like getting lost in decadent set design, meticulous costumes, or could watch Daniel Day-Lewis act for hours then your time won’t be wasted. It’s a clean production and its only issue is that the “love” story is not captivating enough to warrant further exploration.
Not every PT Anderson film can be There Will Be Blood. Phantom Thread felt overly drawn out without saying nearly as much.
Phantom Thread will pair well with a buttery mushroom omelette. Be sure to use butter and not oil in order to trigger Reynolds’ food policing. If you’re lucky the mushrooms you use will either be poisonous and cause you to miss the center drag of the film while you’re busy vomiting or they’ll be hallucinogenic and all you’ll focus on is the setting.