Reynolds (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a famous dress maker. He is very much set in his ways and likes things just so. And one of the things he likes is Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress much younger than he is who immediately catches his eye. Becoming his lover and muse, Alma is introduced into Reynolds’ world, but she doesn’t fit in without causing a few ripples, especially in his relationship with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) who was the woman in Reynolds’ life so far.
Phantom Thread is an utterly exhausting film. I felt drained of energy after having seen it and I still don’t know what the film was getting at in the first place. I can’t say that the film was really bad, but it was pretty horrible for me.
For me, it’s very obvious that Phantom Thread was made by a man because Reynolds is completely creepy in how he meets Alma and the film doesn’t seem to realize that at all. From a female perspective, his creepiness slaps you in the face and makes you wonder why Alma would go on a date with him, or if she did, why she’d then go and stay with him. From a male perspective, I think he was meant to be seen as “intense, mysterious and self-assured” and of course, Alma would love to date a guy like that.
At the end of the film, their relationship does make sense – but at the same time it is the weirdest BDSM relationship I’ve probably ever seen. And I don’t think it’s entirely healthy – at least, if we define healthy as “safe, sane and consensual”: that’s a “no, questionable and definitely not at first” right there.
[On a sidenote: Equally questionable, though with much less serious implications, is their decision to use chanterelles of all mushrooms as the poisonous ones – the only kind of mushroom even children can tell apart from all others and which are entirely edible.]
I did like Cyril and I would have loved to get more of her but the film instead drops her halfway through without much reason or explanation which I found disappointing. Another disappointment: while I liked Vicky Krieps’ performance as Alma, I remained confused about what she wanted and why.
Altogether, the film had a few unnecessary lengths that made it feel like it was dragging its feet, and me alongside them. It’s uncomfortable, but not really in a “makes me think outside my comfort zones and consider new angles” way, but just in a “my back hurts and I’m bored and what am I doing here” way. I can do without that.
Summarizing: No, thank you.