Love and Conflict: Phantom Thread

Although Phantom Thread does not reach the peaks of some of Paul Thomas Anderson‘s other work it fits very well into his filmography; and is a great final performance for Daniel Day-Lewis. The film is a love story yet the film is as much about conflict as it is love. The masterful craftsmanship that we have come to know and love from Anderson is present. Just for this alone the film is worth seeing as he offers some of the best craft in the film industry today. By spending a lot of time on all elements of the film he builds worlds that feel so realised and thereby give weight to the characters actions within these worlds.

We learn a lot about our main character Reynolds (Daniel Day-Lewis) in the opening shots as we see him preparing for his day. He moves slow but with purpose and is very meticulous with his actions. All these traits we will see continue and grow throughout the film as we learn more about this charismatic man. He is a fashion designer set in the 1950s; acting as an archetype for anyone with a passion for their art form. He is controlling, obsessive, disagreeable, industrious and conscientious.

Reynolds lives and works with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville). She understands him better than anyone and also shares the loss of their mother. However, it is clear the loss haunts Reynolds much more. Reynolds acts strong but Cyril displays that she can see right through him and is stronger on more than one occasion. She knows everything about him and can therefore use this knowledge to predict his behaviour and control him.

What makes this dynamic interesting is when he meets his lover and muse Alma (Vicky Krieps). They meet in the countryside and fall in love at first sight, she is a waitress from a very different world to Reynolds. She differs to Reynolds in many way; she is spontaneous while he lives a structured planned life. Cyril spots Alma’s spontaneity and tries to prevent it as she understands it will not go down well with Reynolds. She is consistently correct about this. However, this does not prevent Reynolds and Alma functioning as a couple even through there many conflicts and difference.

The love of Reynolds and Alma in the end trumps all of their conflicts and difference. The story is not an overly complex one and features little fancy film making. The humour that is present throughout is dry yet fits really well. The film is crafted so well that it will keep audiences engaged from beginning till the end. It has a lot depth as well to leave audiences thinking about what they have seen.

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