Phantom Thread, written & directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Costume Designer: Mark Bridges, Musical Score composed by Jonny Greenwood

Phantom Thread (2017) is a lavish period film set in 1950’s London. The main characters are Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays a haute couture designer, Lesley Manville, who plays his sister, and Vicky Krieps, as a waitress who becomes his lover whom he eventually marries. This film is brilliantly executed from the stunning scenes, sparse but intense dialogue, complex characterizations of the principals, and the storytelling which includes a surprise.

Female viewers should be put-off by the narcissistic and misogynistic designer, Reynold Woodcock, who (it is implied), preys upon a string of young women he uses for muses, models, and lovers, but he unsuspectingly meets someone different in the simple but charming Alma Elson, a foreigner. They soon fall in love and she moves into his grand house in London where Reynold’s sister Cyril runs matters. Cyril is the only one able to stand up to Reynolds’ spoiled child repertoire. He seems only able to love his dead mother whose image, wearing a wedding dress, haunts him. When Alma is at risk of becoming another cast-off of Reynold, she tries to lure him back with a surprise dinner, which is a disaster. When she is loving and kind, he is mean and hurtful. The fact that Alma persists in her loyalty to an abusive person reveals her own troubling character.

Eventually, Alma decides to injure Reynold with poisonous mushrooms. This leaves him ill and at her mercy as she nurses him, just as his mother would. While ill, Reynold sees his mother and once he is recovered, he proposes to Alma.

This film begins as a strange love story, but soon turns into a psychological thriller with a sinister edge. While rated R for mature themes, it may be worth watching for those who enjoy a well-made film.