Supposedly Daniel Day-Lewis' final film, Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread is his gentlest yet. A love story of sorts set in London during the 1950s, we are immersed in the House of Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis), a quietly eccentric couturier known for his daring and unique designs.
Alma (Vicky Krieps) is his latest muse, a sweet-natured country girl who catches his eye and doesn't want to let go. Halfway through the first date, we're nearly dizzy with romance as the piano trills swell and he lays swatches of silk against her collarbone.
The dynamic shifts in an instant, and Woodcock is in work mode, methodically measuring Alma while his assistant takes notes, the only residual tenderness shown through close-ups of his calloused thumbs precisely holding the tape against her silhouette.
After a half-hour worth of needles pulling thread and three bumpy shots of them driving out a country road, it's clear that Anderson didn't make a period piece; he made a movie that looks like it was made in the 1950s. The colors are big and grand. It's full of dramatic sweeps of lace across the work table and billowing skirts sashaying through the showroom, where, like most movie romances of that era, there's gaslighting going on at both ends.
Although easily counted as another standout transformation by Day-Lewis into a persnickety, avant-garde dressmaker, if this is truly his last film, it is perhaps too mild an adieu from such a fierce actor. Maybe I'm just not ready to say goodbye without one more vein-bursting monologue.
CRITIC'S RATING: 4/4 stars.
Phantom Thread is rated R and now play at Fox Tower.