Film Review of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread

In everything we do, love is constant; love for something abstract that may guide or misguide the tide of life. And in hope that we have command over these unsettling currents ourselves, we give in to love’s problematic and sentient needs. Phantom Thread explores how inadequate and wounded this kind of love can be.

Paul Thomas Anderson’s perception of Reynolds and Cyril Woodcock is interpreted through the intervention of Reynolds’s muse, Alma Elson. The film is set in a meditative and fleeting atmosphere. And the house they live in remains unchanged throughout. Figures enter and exit the home resembling humans but perhaps aren’t; the menders of the broken, the sculptors of perfection.

The dress designer that couldn’t have been played so eloquently by anyone other than Daniel Day-Lewis delivers a personality so crisp yet deeply connected to the air he breathes. In his living of the character is his reading of the transient and persistent force of nature; copious in capacity and expansive and all-consuming in essence.

Maybe the film set in time occupies no time at all. No conscious movement of wind, matter, and being. The softness of every frame is a silhouette against the natural beauty of light. Every object the light touches – every inch of fabric, perhaps a grain of dust floating in the air – represents the uncertainty of life. What is adorned often disappears; you cannot run your hands over the same piece of fabric twice and feel its brilliance knock over you. So is it a mystery why love, as is, still exists?