"PHANTOM THREAD" (2017)
4 out of 5 STARS
DIRECTOR: Paul Thomas Anderson
CAST: Vicky Krieps, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville,
R - Drama
RUNTIME: 2h 10m
Powerful drama about a not too investigated subject: The creative art and business of high fashion dressmaking, and the love life of a straight, male fashion designer in an era 60 years before gay fashion stereotypes were pushed on "Project Runway" and "Queer Eye..." on Bravo TV.
Set in 1950's London, Reynolds Woodcock (Day-Lewis) is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma (Krieps), who becomes his muse and lover. Frustrated by his stubbornness and refusal to recognize her importance to his life, she finds a way to rein him in.
I wish Hollywood could make movies like this all the time. As i've mentioned in previous reviews...I love films that depict the life of masterful artists plying their craft. This movie takes you deep into the intense passion of Mr. Woodcock as he and his sister (and biz partner) build hand-stitched fashions for all of London's elite women.
Reynolds is a muse-driven artist. And so he finds beauty and perfection in each of his clients. His passion turns into a form of love with each of them, but especially his married clients who often reciprocate with flirtation, or perhaps more.
But this is always safe hunting ground for Reynolds as parting goes hand-in-hand with final delivery of each creation, mostly breaking his own heart and rarely theirs. And it is exactly this regimen that builds his reputation as an artist and a man of high honor. In sum, he is destined to remain a confirmed bachelor and he's good with it.
But what Reynolds truly needs is a full-time muse. And he finds one in Alma, a waitress near his country house. He invites her into his life and their first date turns into a semi-erotic dress-fitting. As an audience you are in disbelief at this rare peek into sensual and delicate eros--sans nudity or sex--it is all merely suggestive through this gentleman's tender measurement of his il Fornarina.
(Note to self: build dress shop in my study for after-date foreplay).
Full disclosure: I was a Director of Programming at Bravo/IFC in 1999-2001, a few years before the aforementioned programs became popular on Bravo TV.