Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps
Release Date: April 10, 2018
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
Set in the glamour of the 1950’s post-war London, renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) are at the center of the British fashion, dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutants and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through Woodcock’s life until he comes across a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover. Once controlled and planned, he finds his carefully tailored life disrupted by the scariest curse of all…love.
From notable filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, the Oscar-nominated ‘Phantom Thread’ tells the tale of acclaimed dressmaker and self-proclaimed bachelor Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) who lives in the glorious Woodcock estate circa 1950’s post-war London along with his sister Cyril (Manville) creating dresses for the most important and vivacious individuals around. Never able to keep his interest in one woman for too long, largely due to his quirks and erratic behavior, everything changes when Reynolds meets young waitress Alma (Krieps), a confident and strong woman whose refusal to sit back and fall into the shadows quickly changes the lives of both as Reynolds soon finds himself falling like never before.
Written and directed by the talented Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, Inherent Vice) who does a magnificent job at the helm of ‘Phantom Thread’ carefully and passionately guiding along his own script and providing true beauty around every turn. The film also owes a huge chunk of credit to the talented and perfectly selected individuals that make up the key cast including Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood), Lesley Manville (Maleficent) and Vicky Krieps (Hanna), each providing notable performances in their respective roles, particularly Day-Lewis who is nothing short of magnificent in the lead, capturing the quirky and offbeat nuances of Reynolds Woodcock without ever missing a beat.
‘Phantom Thread’ is an impressive piece of filmmaking, brimming with gorgeous imagery and an immaculate eye for the details of the era that exudes an odd passion and unique charm that carefully builds its way along with ease, truly allowing the viewer to better know these individuals and each of their charms and quirks as their newfound romance develops. Whether the viewer will ultimately truly care about the personal progressions and courses of these folks though is another matter entirely. The almost hateful actions of characters make it difficult to care a great deal for them and by the end nearly all relatability is thrown out the window as you can’t help but at least partially despise them. Yet even so, the care, consideration and utter beauty of each room, area and each other minute detail within makes ‘Phantom Thread’ something quite special. It’s gracefully guided along its course by director Paul Thomas Anderson whose careful guidance is perfectly complimented by spectacular performances from a talented cast led by Daniel Day Lewis who is absolutely spectacular in the lead. Passionate fans of filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson and/or of actor Daniel Day-Lewis with both undoubtedly want to make a point of checking out ‘Phantom Thread’ at your earliest convenience, with both director and star offering impressive work. I would also strongly encourage those that appreciate a beautifully constructed romantic period piece to try and give this one a shot; you’ll likely be pleased that you decided to do so.
Overall, ‘Phantom Thread’ is a beautifully crafted period piece that captures every minuscule detail of the era with gorgeous precision and offers a passionate and often truly moving tale that was clearly molded with the utmost of care and marks yet another noteworthy entry in the continually impressive career of filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, as well as that of actor Daniel Day-Lewis who both bring something special to the table here and work together spectacularly. With a few exceptions such as the increasingly unlikable actions of many key characters, it’s one outstanding film and ‘Phantom Thread’ is highly recommended. Just as is the case with many unique films, it surely won’t be for everyone yet for longtime fans of filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson and/or actor Daniel Day-Lewis along with those that that enjoy a notable period piece with a romantic story to engulf it and an eye for details of the era, it should have no trouble whatsoever proving more than worthy of your time and the cost of a rental at the absolute least.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Phantom Thread’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks wonderful as a whole and delivers a clean, sharp and detailed presentation throughout that still retains plenty of grain and other artifacts representative of its 35 mm film source. It holds up perfectly even during the darkly lit and heavily populated sequences, never allowing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a fantastic high definition video presentation that’s further complimented by a more than adequate bitrate and should have no trouble whatsoever thrilling both fans of the film and first time viewers.
The Blu-ray release features a DTS: X (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the 7.1 channel DTS-HD MA presentation. This lossless multichannel soundtrack offers a crisp, clean and detailed audio presentation from start to finish, although far less aggressive and overpowering than so many big budget blockbusters that receive one of the deluxe audio treatments. It occasionally takes advantage of all seven available channels in order to send the score, some crowd chatter, nature elements and other appropriate tidbits throughout the various speakers when fitting, and always making certain that the dialogue and other key factors remain clean and fully audible. Overall, this is a great DTS: X (DTS-HD MA 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that may not get too excited but definitely delivers in every way required of it and makes a splendid compliment to the overall viewing experience.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Phantom Thread’ includes a few short, yet interesting extras that fans should enjoy. Included on the release is a collection of ‘Camera Tests with Optional Commentary by Paul Thomas Anderson’ (running approximately 9 minutes in length), in addition to ‘For the Hungry Boy: A Collection of Deleted Scenes with Music by Jonny Greenwood’ (running approximately 5 minutes), along with a ‘House of Woodcock Fashion Show – Narrated by Adam Buxton’ (approximately 3 minutes) and some ‘Behind the Scenes Photographs; featuring photographs by Michael Bauman with Demo Versions of Jonny Greenwood’s Score’ (approximately 12 minutes).