Set in 1950’s London, Reynolds Woodcock is a renowned dressmaker whose fastidious life is disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman, Alma, who becomes his muse and lover.
In Paul Thomas Anderson’s coldly seductive fable of toxic masculinity, Daniel Day-Lewis goes out with high showmanship (but not, perhaps, a home run) as a ’50s British fashion designer who tries to control love.
Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), the svelte and smoldering middle-aged British fashion designer at the heart of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” is a man who seems to have everything he wants. He lives in a splendid five-story London townhouse with walls the color of cream, and he works there too, starting early, sitting with his tea and pastries as he does the day’s sketches, already possessed by his reverent labor. He’s a dressmaker who works with the fervor of an artist — dreaming, obsessing, perfecting. At night he sips martinis at parties and restaurants, rubbing shoulders with the countesses and wealthy London ladies who are his clients, and he’s also a devoted serial womanizer who falls for — and discards — one comely model muse after another. (As the film opens, his current flame is flickering out.) “Phantom Thread” is set in 1955, but Reynolds, in his posh and pampered upper-crust way, has the air of a highly contempo bachelor hedonist. The world is his oyster, and it’s also his man-cave.
In his final film, Day-Lewis reunites with Paul Thomas Anderson to deliver a masterful performance as a society dressmaker beguiled by a young waitress
Abrilliant English couturier of the postwar age: fastidious and cantankerous, humourless and preposterous – and heterosexual, in that pre-Chatterley era when being a bachelor and fashion designer wasn’t automatically associated in the public mind with anything else. Daniel Day-Lewisgives us his cinema swansong in this new film from writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson. He is Reynolds Jeremiah Woodcock, celebrated dressmaker to the debutantes of Britain, but now under pressure from the New Look and influences from across the Channel. He treats us to a fine display of temper on the subject of that unforgivably meretricious word: chic.
Paul Thomas Anderson and Jonny Greenwood were at an event for their 2015 collaboration Junun when the Radiohead guitarist made an off-handed comment about Beau Brummell.
“We were talking about male grooming, so I told him about Beau Brummell, this regency dandy who spend all his money on his—quite understated—appearance,” Greenwood told Esquire.com in an email. “Brummell used to have visitors every morning coming and watch him prepare for the day by dressing just so. Obsessively putting every item of clothing on, adjusting each detail until it was perfect—and starting again if it wasn’t. All this, to a room of spectators.”
The composer discusses his masterful score for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread.