In this Gothic-tinged romance set in the world of 1950s high fashion, Daniel Day-Lewis plays society couturier Reynolds Woodcock, who falls for young waitress Alma (Vicky Krieps), and sets about moulding her into both muse and lover. Given the difference in age and social standing, as well as Reynolds’ controlling nature, the power dynamic is skewed from the start, but Alma finds increasingly inventive ways to assert herself. There’s a quaint chasteness to the courtship that’s echoed in the film’s stylistic restraint, but beneath the genteel veneer there lurks a delicious strain of perversity and a hint of sadomasochism. More than just a timely study of toxic masculinity and artistic ego, this is a portrait of a young woman learning to identify her limits and desires, and negotiate the price and terms of submission. In other words, it’s essentially PTA’s Fifty Shades of Grey, and every bit as exquisitely strange and seductive as that sounds. An absolute knockout. — RWCON: Threadbare
Powerfully acted by Day-Lewis and Krieps, the visually mesmerising Phantom Thread had the potential to be an intense psycho-thriller about a “poisonous” (in every sense of the word) relationship. But at its core lies a clichéd power struggle between an obsessive spoiled genius and a naïve, beautiful girl (always under the male gaze) who confuses admiration for love. While Reynolds isn’t nuanced enough to be memorable, Alma’s alternation between submissive lover and strong-willed woman driven by jealousy often feels implausible. These two tormented souls play a banal and somewhat predictable game. What’s worse, the man is revered as a lofty artist, while the woman is fated to fight for his affection, with the only weapon at her disposal coming from (where else?) the kitchen. — YCPhantom Thread I Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (US, 2017) with Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps. Starts Feb 1.
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