Saturday, January 27, 2018

Phantom Thread: Monday, January 22 2018

Phantom Thread (2017) is an American historical drama, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (47). Anderson has made many films, including There Will Be Blood (2007). His work has gained Academy Awards. Anderson says that the cinematography was a collaborative effort with Robert Elswit (67). Elswit won an Oscar for best cinematography for his work in There Will Be Blood (2007). The music, by Jonny Greenwood, is delightful.

The film is set in the couture world of London, England, in the 1950s. Strangely, the atmosphere seems reminicient of earlier in that century. The cinematography is beautiful and gives the feeling of old paintings. This is perhaps why it seems the film is set in an earlier time. The clothes are lovely, as were the fashions of the fifties. After the austerieties of the Second World War, and the boxy clothes of that time, women wanted to become more feminine, elegant, and shapely.

The acting is superb, as one would expect, especially from Daniel Day-Lewis (60) as Reynolds Woodcock. He won one of his three Oscars, as Best Actor, for his work in There Will Be Blood (2007). He really is perfect in this role. Vicky Krieps (34), with her German accent, is also perfect in her role as Alma Elson, a waitress who has a relationship with the noted couturier, Reynolds Woodcock. Lesley Manville (61) as Cyril Woodcock, Reynolds sister, is also perfect.

When Alma and Woodcock meet, her cheeks flush pink, as her dress. She allows Woodcock to carry her off. Woodcock is a sexual predator, and wants to control his much too young victim. In Alma, he has met his match. She learns to control him by poisoning him just enough to make him ill. Then she has him in her power, as he needs her to support him through his illness. They each declare their love for each other, and in the end, Alma manipulates Woodcock into marrying her. They continue in their peculiar relationship, both understanding the other's behavior, and condoning it. Is this the phantom thread running though their liaison?

The film is of a high professionalism in every area. It's lovely to look at, and will no doubt gain Oscar nominations. In spite of all that, my friends didn't like it, nor would they tell anyone they have to see it. In my opinion, that is because of the sordid subject of the story line. Woodcock is a horrible character, whom it is impossible to like, or even feel any compassion for him. Alma is not attractive either. She is manipulative and self-seeking, and not sympathetic. These are not people many people would want to know. To feel this about the main characters in a film doesn't add to one's enjoyment. It detracts a great deal! Not a "feel good" movie!

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