Plot: Reynolds (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a master dress maker, an almost peerless artist who is always in demand and always in the creation process. His skill is legendary, as are his personality quirks that drive his greatness, but also make him almost impossible for most people to tolerate. He is slavish to his routine and is shaken by variations, even if they’re minor distractions or deviations. Cyril (Lesley Manville) is his handler and makes sure his extensive needs are covered, while she also deals with the social matters that he is ill equipped to handle. She even dismisses his love interests when his attention wanes, but he has met a new woman that has captured his imagination. She is Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress he met and was immediately drawn to, quickly moving her in and using her as his muse. But his history with romance and strong personality is a stark contrast to Alma’s free spirited presence and openness to love, so she finds herself struggling to keep their relationship intact.
Entertainment Value: This is a beautiful, masterful motion picture that has a stark realism, but also has an almost ethereal presence. The basic narrative is mostly straight forward, as we have a battle of will of sorts between the spirited Alma and the well entrenched in his ways Reynolds. This relationship is the core of the movie, but it isn’t handled in the usual ways, instead we’re left in the dark in a lot of the details and have a surface only view of the events. The motivations of Alma and Reynolds aren’t all that obvious and the movie is careful to not take sides, presenting them as strong willed, polar opposites that share an intense bond. The movie has a serious tone, but has some highly effective notes of humor as well, most of which play off Reynolds’ inability to control or at least tame Alma. Daniel Day-Lewis is just beyond excellent here, he has built a legacy as one of the all time greatest actors and this role adds yet another elite tier effort to his resume. He is so deep in the role, you forget he is this world famous star and he is just Reynolds, that is no small feat. Vicky Krieps is fantastic as well and keeps pace with Day-Lewis, while the two have a chemistry that is odd, but effective and anchors the entire picture. I found Phantom Thread to be an absolute masterpiece, a beautiful and unforgettable experience.
The movie centers on a romantic relationship, but the sexual component is more or less nonexistent. Aside from some women seen in thin slips during dress making scenes, there’s not even a hint of nakedness here. I appreciated the approach used, as it lets the focus rest on the characters and the dynamics of their relationship, whereas most movies emphasis the sexual aspect over the real depth. I love sleaze of course, but it is never missed in this experience. No blood. There’s no violence in Phantom Thread, at least not in the direct, blunt sense. The dialogue is nothing short of masterful, crafted in this rich, sometimes dark concoction that makes simple conversations entrancing, let alone the sharp bursts of emotion. Reynolds is a hell of a character and he provides a lot of memorable moments, mostly from his constant and barely contained frustrations with the most minute of problems. How Alma handles his tantrums and childish antics is almost as much to fun. The dysfunction here is deeply rooted and the dialogue really drives it to the surface, superb work indeed. The craziness here is mostly subtle and unsettling, rather than all out madness, but it is off the rails in that deliberate, careful sense. Reynolds is imbalanced and short fused, Alma has her demons, and the general atmosphere here is dark and unnerving. How the narrative winds down also provides some intense, unexpected craziness.
Overall Insanity: 5/10