Finally, a Paul Thomas Anderson film that I can actually tolerate and actually enjoyed and mostly thought was very good. I don’t think I’ve liked a Paul Thomas Anderson film since Punch-Drunk Love and this is his best film since Boogie Nights. To let you know if you can stand to read the rest of this review, especially those Paul Thomas Anderson fanatics out there, I can’t stand Magnolia, The Master, There Will Be Blood, and Inherent Vice (I haven’t seen Hard Eight). And it’s not that his films are terrible. I know I can be accused of calling his previous films ‘beautiful garbage,’ but I think now I can tell you that I can’t stand his films because I just honestly don’t get him. Well, with PHANTOM THREAD, I think I kind of understand him now, other than that I really didn’t care for the 3rd act of this film, especially the last 15 minutes.
But the rest of the film is near note perfect. The acting, the cinematography, the music (oh God yes the music), the fashion, most of the story, everything is really beautiful, and not beautiful garbage, genuinely beautiful. I might need to watch it again to really figure out why the last 15 minutes didn’t work for me, but they didn’t work for me enough to make me hate or not stand the film (if you check my top 50 list this film is in there, while most of his other films have been on my worst list the year they have come out). I just don’t think the last 15 minutes matched the rest of the film. It tries to pull a kind of a Woody Allen’s Match Point sort of ending, and it trips and stumbles instead of sticks the landing.
Ok, ok, most of you that aren’t cinephiles are probably asking, “what is this movie Phantom Thread?” Well, first of all, it is supposed to be the great actor Daniel Day Lewis’ final film, because he is retiring from acting (we will see how long that lasts, anyone that says that misses it, and ends up coming back in 5 to 7 years). And the movie takes place in the 1950’s, and he plays a OCD dressmaker named Reynold Woodcock, where anyone that is anyone with money comes to him and his sister for them to make a dress for a requested occasion. He goes through women like Tic Tacs, loving and obsessed with them so much at first and then dump them at the first sign of annoyance. But then he meets a waitress named Alma, a woman that tries to permanently disrupt his perfectly tailored life and be the one woman he just can’t get rid of.
That’s about all I am going to say, because if I say any more, I would ruin the last crucial 30 minutes of the film. And like I said, really only the last fifteen minutes I didn’t care for. Paul Thomas Anderson does something that is actually pretty intriguing at first, and the story gets even more interesting than it already was. But then that thing is brought up again and the reactions, decisions, and ultimate climax motivations of the characters take another turn that I didn’t necessarily think matched with the rest of the film. But that’s probably just me. I think it could’ve went a lot of interesting ways, but instead told a too convenient easy, weird, and disturbing way out. Oh well. Like I said, it might work for you. *shrugs*
But the rest of the film is great. The actress that plays Alma (Vicky Krieps) is absolutely sensational, and I don’t understand why she isn’t getting any Oscar buzz this year. Every facial expression, look, and body movement is precisely calculated and she is extraordinary to watch. And of course, if this is Daniel Day Lewis’ final film, he goes out on a high note. He plays the OCD Reynolds Woodcock to perfection. Daniel Day Lewis absolutely sinks into this role, just like he does every other role, and while he did win the Oscar for Lincoln and My Left Foot, I think his performance here is even better. In fact, even though I didn’t like There Will Be Blood, his performance here is on par with that. Masterful. A class act. If this is his final film, he will e truly missed.
And I’ll repeat it again, the rest of the film is quite beautiful and sometimes even mesmerizing and hilarious. England in the 50s is shot to perfection. There is this scene where Reynolds and Alma try to get one of his dresses back from this debutante who is being a bit of a ditsy drunk at her own wedding and is disrespecting the dress. It is my favorite scene in the film and that and a handful of other scenes are just that great to watch. It is just a shame those last 15 minutes didn’t work. Otherwise it could’ve been higher and maybe even hit my top ten list. But I think the real breakthrough here is that I didn’t hate another Paul Thomas Anderson film. I don’t know what it is to you, but to me its a miracle among modern science. It is almost like me not thinking a Uwe Boll is terrible. BAHAHAHAHAHAHA, sorry about that will never happen.