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  • Colin Fraser


FOUR AND A HALF STARS A designer to royalty is distracted by one of his models.

Daniel Day Lewis, Vicki Krieps


Here is the kind of film to make you swoon; a word that distills the essence of an elegantly old-fashioned notion of what is proper and correct while attempting to hide a more carnal, modern reality. Swoon - it really does get to the heart of PHANTOM THREAD.

Paul Thomas Anderson makes small, character stories on an epic scale, just as he did with THE MASTER or THERE WILL BE BLOOD which earned THREAD’s star, Daniel Day Lewis, his third Oscar. This could see him win a fourth. PHANTOM THREAD is no different. Set in London of the 1950’s, Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a gifted designer whose dresses adorn the rich and famous. Supported by his long-suffering sister Cyril (Lesley Manning), their business is successful despite Woodcock’s tendency to fall for beautiful women. Usually they’re dispatched by Cyril once they pass their usefulness and the same is set to happen to Alma (Vicki Krieps) but for that word again - the pair are locked in an impossible swoon.

Anderson’s film is a wonderfully complex character study that journeys across darker, more brittle human emotions. Not without shocks enroute, the director saves the most shocking for last once the couple’s embattled relationship enters very dark waters indeed. What makes this work and keeps the film beyond mere soap opera is Anderson’s convincing script and never less than credible performances. While all the cast are good, Lewis is simply outstanding, again. With the smallest gestures and without grandstanding, he invests Woodcock with a formidable presence which, counter-intuitively, makes Alma all the more formidable herself. In the most mannered and mild way possible, the pair are electric.

PHANTOM THREAD is also surprisingly funny. Anderson recognises that any relationships that become this complicated have a whiff of the ridiculous about them, and he’s prepared to let his characters in on the joke who, in turn, let us in on it too. It’s what makes PHANTOM THREAD so accessible in spite of the starched air of society and sumptuous settings in which they reside. It’s what makes PHANTOM THREAD one of the great swoons of the year.

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