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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Phantom Thread (2017)

Set in the haute couture world of 1950's London, a famous but eccentric fashion designer (Daniel Day Lewis) insists on being in control of his life and environment. When he meets a young waitress (Vicky Krieps), he takes her under his wing and acts as Pygmalion to her Galatea. But he underestimates her and soon they battle over dominance in their relationship. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (MAGNOLIA), this ambitious look at the dynamics of power shifts in a personal relationship is a visual treat. Once again, Daniel Day Lewis (reputedly his swan song to acting) proves the premier film actor of his generation. His fashion designer is a carefully crafted and intimate creation, unable to stand even the slightest deviation of his perfectly controlled life. Alas, Anderson meets his Waterloo when he is unable to construct a satisfactory conclusion. I was expecting something dark and sick but what we get is something sick and sentimental. It feels like Anderson doesn't trust us to accept the perverse nature of these characters (he may be right, I could feel the audience turning against the movie) and sprinkles sugar over the last few frames. A pity because there's so much good stuff here. I'd rank it somewhere between THE MASTER and PUNCH DRUNK LOVE. With Lesley Manville, excellent as Day Lewis's strong willed sister.

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