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Phantom Thread

Ten minutes into this film I was truck by its similarity to a much better film Rebecca. There is the same three-way power struggle, the taking of a young awkward woman in servile employment into a house where she is made unwelcome and the debonair but unreliable Reynolds Woodcock resembles Maxim de Winter and even more his sinister controlling sister Cyril Mrs Danvers.

Lesley Manville

The updated story is of a 1950s fashion house of dressmakers to the rich and famous Woodcock whose creative force is the pernickety Reynolds Woodcock and the business run by his sister Cyril.

Reynolds is played by Daniel Day Lewis, which he says is his last film role, and Cyril by Lesley Manville.

Both give powerful performances, less so Vicky Krieps as the German waitress Alma, whom Reynolds meets and invites back to the house. She is rather staid and stolid both in posture and delivery of lines.

I felt it was likely that Reynolds would be homosexual. He certainly is a mother’s boy, with a lock of her hair stitched into his jacket, but he comes over as a confirmed batchelor unable to alter his routine to accommodate a relationship. Alma is more scheming whilst Cyril is implacable in her control of her brother and the House of Woodcock. The story takes a dark Gothic turn which I won’t spoil and the end like a French film is left in the air.

The best feature of the film is the acting of Daniel Day Lewis.

His manner, voice, his fawning over lady clients, his inability to tolerate any distractions to his concentration, are all beautifully conveyed but this is not enough to redeem the film. It’s difficult to gauge to whom it would appeal  possibly the ‘silver’ audience but many would of them would surely make the comparison with Rebecca

Wait for the DVD or release on Netflix.

About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts