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Phantom Thread

‘Phantom Thread’ is the movie that actor Daniel Day-Lewis has grandly announced as being his final acting role. Whether that’s true remains to be seen but for now he delivers another excellent performance. That isn’t too difficult due to the finely written script by writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson. His work, including ‘Boogie Nights’ and ‘There will be Blood’, have startled audiences. ‘Phantom Thread’ should be no different. With its exploration of a fashion house in the 1950’s, it is another engrossing production from a gifted story-teller.

London dressmakers Reynolds (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his sister Cyril (Leslie Manville) have a distinctive style popular with royalty, stars and high society. Their fashion house is continually busy with romance being a constant source of pleasure for Reynolds. Thinking he will forever remain a bachelor, he is surprised when he meets Alma (Vicky Krieps). Becoming his muse and lover, Alma’s entrancing allure affect Reynolds structured life in ways he could never have contemplated.

Although his work demands a lot of viewers, Paul Thomas Anderson knows how to capture attention. He does this with ease in ‘Phantom Thread’ due to a strong script and powerful performances. Day Lewis successfully inhabits Reynolds’ arrogant, needy and peculiar manner. Perhaps that’s why he was cast as Day Lewis creates a complete character full of genuine human foibles. He understands the many layers of the dense script with Anderson taking his time to tell the intricate tale.

‘Phantom Thread’ comes into its own with exquisite production design and elegant score. It perfectly encapsulates the aloof 1950’s surrounds in Reynolds’ world. The superb rendering of the era allows you to fully invest in the story even if it occasionally drags. Anderson continues his bad habit of over-emphasising the emotional turmoil of his characters that dilutes the story’s impact. His drawing out of strong performances and fantastic attention to detail are first class and evidence of a film-maker taking care in crafting something unique.

If ‘Phantom Thread’ is truly the final coda in Daniel Day-Lewis’ career, then he definitely has gone out on top. Conjuring a memorable persona, his skills will be missed. Thankfully Paul Thomas Anderson has no plans to retire with his film-making style always intriguing and refusing to settle for anything less than cinematic perfection.

Rating out of 10: 7

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