PTA and Day-Lewis reteaming is perfection
Last month, as I was wrapping up my year-end ranking of the best films of 2017, there was one particularly glaring omission.
As a member of the Columbus Film Critics Association, the end of the year is, well, like Christmas. My mailbox is stuffed with “For Your Consideration” DVD screeners, and studios set up special screenings of any late-year releases they think might be award-worthy.
And yet there was one particular film we didn't get an opportunity to see early, and it happened to be the latest from the director I consider to be the best working today.
The best thing about Paul Thomas Anderson films is you know what to expect and also you don't. While he has a stylistic and aesthetic consistency, he leaps genres and never makes the same film twice.
His latest film, “Phantom Thread,” also marks a reteaming with “There Will Be Blood” star Daniel Day-Lewis. Oh, and Day-Lewis has announced that this will be his last role (and he's an actor I'd tend to believe). Color me intrigued.
In 1950s London lives Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis), a renowned and highly sought-after dressmaker.
The large house he shares with his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville), doubles as his studio and workshop, and the women of the upper class vie for a chance to wear his designs.
Yet it's a waitress who catches Reynolds' eye and imagination. Alma (Vicky Krieps) comes into his life. As both his artistic muse and lover, she becomes an unintended disruption of his carefully planned life.
In what marks Anderson's most direct love story since “Punch-Drunk Love,” “Phantom Thread” plays out a romance as a power struggle of shifting dynamics between the controlling (and controlled) Reynolds and the quietly strong-willed Alma.
Mind you, this dynamic is not always healthy, but it is enthralling.
As anyone would expect, Day-Lewis gives a performance that's a fitting curtain call for a career that he leaves as one of the all-time greats. This is not the fire-and-brimstone Daniel Plainview of “There Will Be Blood,” but Reynolds is quietly just as intimidating.
That Krieps can even hold her own against this performance is testament to great casting. She unpeels a complexity to Alma that takes the final act to unexpected places. And Manville turns a stoic supporting role into something juicy.
Now I'm finally able to confirm what I suspected. “Phantom Thread” is one of the best movies of the past year.