Monday, October 22, 2018

Tug and Pull

Phantom Thread (2017) - Anderson
If you love someone, do you want to emulate their ways of life or make them conform to your ways? Or do you compromise half way? Phantom Thread, PT Anderson's exquisitely executed film, is in many ways, more refined version of The Master.

Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a middle aged, famous designer of women's clothes- specifically, dresses. He lives and works in his townhouse in London and follows strict daily routine. His life is always surrounded by women - Cyril (Leslie Manville), his sister and trusted confident of his business and about a dozen seamstresses working for him. He can be fickle sometimes, and lets his irritation known when the slightest details bother him. Obviously he has mommy issues. Mostly, his life is all about work and nothing else.

Woodcock drives out to the countryside for a short getaway. At a restaurant of an inn where he is staying at, he takes an instant liking to a clumsy waitress, Alma (Vicky Krieps) of an indeterminate origin (never really pronounced in the entire film). He whisks her to his London atelier and starts measuring her size under the watchful, cold eyes of Cyril who quietly jots down the numbers. The process is all work, not desire. Her gawky figure is perfect for a fitting model. So starts a delicious tug and pull relationship drama.

Alma turns out to be much more than a muse for Woodcock. As difficult of a man he is to be with, for the man she loves, Alma is determined to show him that life doesn't have to be a constant work even if you are that talented or a genius. But Phantom Thread is not 'life lessons' kind of a movie, nor does it pretend to be one of those life affirming movie where a younger woman makes older, driven man stop and smell the daisies. Anderson makes it about a woman going to extreme measures into be part of the man she loves and he finally accepting it - there is something endearing and sexy about that, even though there is no sex scene in the film. Luxembourgian actress Vicky Krieps is totally up to the challenge against Day-Lewis who tones it down for the role significantly. And it's a beauty.

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