Phantom Thread

Film, Drama
5 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(9user reviews)
Phantom Thread

Deceptively hidden under layers of gorgeous surfaces, Paul Thomas Anderson’s borderline-sick romance waltzes towards a riveting tale of obsession.

False gods strut through the movies of Paul Thomas Anderson: rapacious oilmen, well-endowed porn stars, inventors of new religions and spinners of old lies. ‘Phantom Thread’, the writer-director’s ultra-fascinating bad romance (powered by an uncommonly sophisticated script by Anderson himself), gives us a real god – or at least one who’s earned his perch.

Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis, greying, fastidious, never unpersuasive) rules his private corner of London’s 1950s haute fashion world. A dresser of wasp-waisted princesses, he pursues his craft in total concentration and near-complete silence. ‘There’s entirely too much movement at breakfast!’ Woodcock shouts with terrifying severity, an Anderson hallmark. When his character woos a lowly waitress, Alma (Vicky Krieps, purposefully blank), onto his tailoring pedestal to be his new lust object, you cringe on her behalf.

What an absolute joy it is, then, to watch Alma slowly turn the tables on this insufferable creep. ‘Phantom Thread’ hides this development until it can no longer; its build-up is consumed with subtle flirtations, the thrill of driving fast in a sports car, the elegance of the clothes and the ritualisation of Woodcock turning bodies into consumable things. It’s almost a little too square and prestigey for the maker of ‘Inherent Vice’, but then Jonny Greenwood’s delicate piano score goes cello-heavy and the mood darkens into neediness – and worse.

Anderson’s swing of the power pendulum represents his most fun piece of direction to date. Out come the daggerlike stares of Woodcock’s possessive sister, Cyril (Mike Leigh regular Lesley Manville, owning every lip curl and bit of viciousness), and we get that hoariest of plot points: poison-mushroom soup. Forgive that one, because the film is after something incredibly rare that I won’t spoil, a mutually assured destruction that kicks the attraction into overdrive.

Enough can’t be said about ‘Phantom Thread’’s psychological gamesmanship, which morphs from the typical mode of obsessive artist and docile muse into co-conspiratorial glee, then ruinous loneliness and the bickering realities of wedlock. Ultimately, we’re talking about a picture of a weird marriage, one spiked by perversely orchestrated hazards. Even though the tone here is impeccable as a Max Ophüls classic or high-period Bertolucci, you really have to go to something subversive like ‘The War of the Roses’ to get a hint of the comic blackness. It’s sexy, silly and undeniably wonderful – like the best of affairs.

By: Joshua Rothkopf


Release details

Release date:
Friday February 2 2018
130 mins

Cast and crew

Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson
Daniel Day-Lewis
Lesley Manville
Vicky Krieps

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
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It's stunning cinematography, its clever and sharp dialogues, amazing cast and genius direction and most importantly the aesthetics. OMG I want to lick the screen!

This is a film I will buy to watch over and over and over... 


One of the most creative, interesting & unusual films I’ve seen in a very long time, ‘Phantom Thread’ is a breath of fresh air among a halitosis graveyard of superhero flicks & lazy sequels. It’s not that I don’t love a man in spandex (I do) or an eighth reincarnation of robots and cars and robots that turn into cars (I don’t) but it can sometimes feel as though the original content of the silver screen has finally withered & died like last December’s poinsettia.

As Reynolds Woodcock, Daniel Day-Lewis is everything you’d expect him to be, namely a complete and utter inhabitant of the man he plays on screen. Excruciatingly talented but comparably difficult and at times, thoroughly unlikeable, he is the epitome of THAT person, the one you can’t imagine anyone wanting to be with and, simultaneously, the one in whom you can see exactly why people become so enraptured. His relationships are exhausting, be they with the flawless Lesley Manville as sister Cyril, herself a twisted mess of love, loyalty, hatred & resignation, or the striking-but-equally-as-messed-up-as-Reynolds-himself Alma. In a world where every moment of his life is forced into self-imposed structure and routine, it’s both easy & confusing to see why his first glimpse of the awkward but lovely Alma should incur such fascination but as the film and their relationship develops, it becomes clear; they both crave total adoration from and ownership of each other in ways that leap from sweetly tender to bizarrely alarming.

Full of dreamy city & coastal locations and gowns to make you long for the days when an elbow length glove and a touch of Dior were acceptable day wear, the film looks beautiful and the score, by long-time Paul Thomas Anderson collaborator Jonny Greenwood, is just lovely. Plus, keep an eye out for the two older seamstresses who gave such great support to Day-Lewis during his preparations that they ended up with delightful little roles in several scenes.

I confessed as I entered the cinema that I didn’t feel I really knew what a Paul Thomas Anderson film was and having seen his latest, I’m none the wiser but happy in my ignorance. I know I enjoyed this film, I know I thought it was clearly the work of a passionate & talented director but beyond that, when you consider his back catalogue, I’m not sure that there’s any single defining characteristic I could call out. I will say though that craftsmanship and swimming against a tide of mediocre movie making are consistent trademarks I’d guess no-one would object to having applied to them so I’ll plant my flag in both of those camps for Mr. PTA.


It was a slow starter, however I enjoyed this movie. Daniel Day Lewis is a superb actor and played the character Woodcock really well! I really liked the fashion and costume design in it. I quite like Cyril, cold, bitter woman, with a soft, nice hidden edge to her!


A delicious film that repays watching and listening carefully as the story unwraps itself carefully backed by the music that is part of the dialogue too. Film mostly in the Fitzroy Square Georgian house the acoustics and visuals add to the story with the separation of work, eat and resting are filmed. Lots of naturally funny moments in the way the English mannerisms and language is used. Whilst some films turn to dust in your memory this one will stick around like a ghost and repay revisits in years to come.

A piece of pure cinematic poetry / allegory that is a delight to watch. The humour of the writing and the main performances is wonderful, and the ambiguity of it all is tantalising...set against the backdrop of a 60-piece orchestral score by Radiohead's own Jonny Greenwood. Lavish, stylish and mysterious.


There were elements of this film I really liked, such as the score, casting, costumes and the cinematography, but there were also elements I did not. I felt that the overall running time of the film was far too long for the story, therefore the plot became stretched and thin. Also (spoilers) the mushroom storyline was a bit farfetched. Saying that, Daniel-Day Lewis was absolutely fantastic as the meticulous Reynolds Woodcock and the costume design was phenomenal.

This was a bit of a disappointment for me.The film is just overloaded with sentimental and dramatic music (a sure sign of a weakness in the core of the film) The story line is intriguing for 90 minutes but the last 40 minutes descends into ludicrous and silly plot.The film runs out of puff and ultimately it left me empty.The writer makes the whole thing just too stilted and stiff.DD Lewis is good but perhaps trying too hard to extract something that isn't actually there in his part.The star performance is from Cyril (DDL long time assistant) she resonates cold tight lipped inscrutability...Lots of good buts but the loud music drowns out the acting.3 stars

Brilliant work! Even though I rarely would support a 5-star TO review I have to admit that this is as good a melodrama/love story as I have seen. It draws comparisons with the finest of 1940's soporific fare. Accolades go to the central trio of the cast and the beautiful score by Jonny Greenwood. An example of musical continuum that does not grate. Personally, I loathe the industry in question but when PT Anderson continues to produce works like this, I'm not complaining!

0 of 1 found helpful

We fought our way through the half-term scrum in our local shopping centre to see this movie which had been mysteriously pulled for the week after a Tuesday afternoon showing. Most unusual in multiplexes in my experience.

I can’t join the general enthusiasm. 

Although Daniel Day-Lewis is undoubtedly a fine actor, here in his role as a British 1950s successful couturier, smarming and schmoozing his way to High Society moulah, he often resembles Christopher Lee - about to sink his fangs into the next available female neck.

That, and his tendency to resort to Olivier-like mannerisms reminiscent of Archie Rice in “The Entertainer” were also irritating. 

If Day-Lewis wins any awards over Gary Oldman’s magnificent  portrayal of Winston in ‘Finest Hour’, mourning garb will be donned in this household.

On the other hand, the musical score was superb as was Lesley Manville’s portrayal as the arch-poser’s sister. 

It looked great too but much of the plot was preposterous. 

No thank-you.