Hot Take: A little weird. A bit pretentious. Oh and kind of boring, too. Daniel Day-Lewis gives his usual great performance but that’s about it.
Phantom Thread, the latest from Paul Thomas Anderson and supposedly last from Daniel Day-Lewis who has stated he is retiring from acting, is one of those films that attempts to be more art than movie. The danger of Phantom Thread is if you don’t find yourself absorbed by its unconventional story the end will land rather flat. Heavy, meticulously crafted, visibly dense and odd, Phantom Thread is demanding of its audience as it takes the road less travelled to a macabre third act that is likely to be make or break for the viewer’s satisfaction of their experience. For this viewer, it never got there and I never felt completely invested in the film to care how it ended despite the ending itself piquing my interest more than the rest of the highfalutin tale of a clothing designer and his romantic interest.
Personally, my biggest issue with the Best Picture nominee is its deliberate pacing. It never makes an effort to develop a rhythm and instead presents an uncompromising storytelling style that director Paul Thomas Anderson chooses to tell the story on his terms alone. In many other critiques, the word comedy comes up often. However, I guess I lack the sense of humor to find comedy in the tale of a self-indulgent genius designer and the woman he can’t seem to shake once he’s grown tired of her. This isn’t to dismiss an excellent performance by Daniel Day-Lewis as designer Reynolds Woodcock or Vicky Krieps as love interest Alma Elson. It’s definitely for the Awards film set but there’s something very lacking in entertainment watching a creative genius be a verbally abusive asshole for 2+ hours.
I guess I can understand the appeal of Phantom Thread but I was never quite immersed in the film enough to get any great satisfaction in the viewing experience and at 130 minutes, the film feels bloated and obsessed with showcasing Day-Lewis’s acting chops rather than advancing the story. Technically, the film is exquisite. It has a great score. The production quality is top notch. However, when it comes down to it, the pretentious effort falls short for me.
It might be Daniel Day-Lewis’s last film and he’s a hell of a performer. Also, it’s likely to be the film amongst the Best Picture nominees you haven’t seen.
It’s long, pretentious and too relevant in its tale of an emotionally abusive genius.