Blu-ray Review: Phantom Thread

Even though the story and characters often times feel as though they’re somewhat directionless in terms of a clear arc or reasoning for doing some of the things they do, there’s something highly addictive about Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film, Phantom Thread, that makes it easy to watch. That something is the acting done by the masterful Daniel Day-Lewis, and Vicky Krieps, who stands toe to toe with him the entire way – which is no small feat.

That’s not to say the story isn’t interesting, it’s just that there intentionally isn’t a clear, simple goal for those involved, which isn’t something that audiences tend to expect. Instead, we’re left to watch these two characters as they try to build a relationship of sorts, but it’s by no means a run of the mill love story. There’s some mystery involved as to why the characters are the way they are, and while some may not be up to the task of wading through the more poetic storytelling route Anderson takes to reveal these traits, those who do enjoy the journey will bare witness to a unique romantic tale, filled with ups and downs, as only Paul Thomas Anderson could bring to life.

To delve into the story would only be a disservice to the film, as it’s really an experience that captivates the viewer, leading them to peel away the layers of these characters as they go about their often quarrelsome lives together. The gist of it is that Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a brilliant, highly sought-after fashion designer in the 1950s. He’s someone very set on his routine, and working environment, and while he finds inspiration through women in his life, he’s quick to part ways with them once they’ve served their purpose. That is until he finds himself inspired and enamoured with a young strong-willed woman named Alma (Krieps), who is unlike any muse that’s crossed his path before.

And it really is the chemistry between Day-Lewis and Krieps that carries the film. While beautiful in its own storytelling right, without the correct actors and chemistry, this is a tale that could easily unwind and become a tangled mess quite easily. But it’s the work of these two fine actors above all that bring intrigue to the slowly woven story, as they become so completely captivating as Woodcock and Alma, that the world around them feels completely real and you just become sucked in – even if you’re wondering where exactly it is the story seems to be going.

This is said to be Day-Lewis’s final film, and if it is, he’s going out with an absolute bang. His nomination for Best Actor at the Academy Awards this year wasn’t just a farewell nod to a highly acclaimed actor on his last voyage out, but a deserved recognition for once again delivering the goods on a character that not many would dare touch, or at least be able to bring to life in a way that Anderson intended. So while he’ll be missed on the silver screen, Phantom Thread is as high a note as Day-Lewis could hope to go out on.

I must also mention the superb score by Jonny Greenwood, which helps carry the film almost as much as the performances within it. Greenwood has worked with Anderson on his previous films, and it’s clear once again why he’s the director’s go-to man for music. It’s a rare occurrence in Phantom Thread where the score isn’t heavily playing into what’s taking place on the screen, so many props must go out to Greedwood for his work alongside Anderson once again.

If you’re a fan of Anderson, then making sure you see Phantom Thread is a no-brainer – and you’ve likely already done so anyway; however, for those still unsure if this movie is for them, well, you may have a better idea after reading the above. If there’s slight intrigue, then give it a shot. Even if the story fails to deliver, the performances by Day-Lewis and Krieps are worth the price of admission alone.

The film looks stunning on Blu-ray, with the picture quality looking as sharp as the tip of a sewing needle. The audio mix and score also come through beautifully, with the dialogue and music both working in harmony to tell the story instead of competing for speaker space.

Special Features:

The weakest part of Phantom Thread is the special features, with it being a pretty barren place for fan’s of the film who may have wanted to get an inside look at the making of the film, or Anderson’s thought process. The main thing missing would be a commentary, or a true behind-the-scenes feature, but here is what you do get:

Camera Tests – These are the most those looking for the above will get, as there are various camera tests that run at a total of just under nine minutes. They can be played without commentary, but Anderson did do one for each shot where he explains the reason why certain film stocks were used, and their benefits to the film.

For The Hungry Boy – Just under five minutes of deleted scenes can be found here, with music by Greenwood to accompany them.

House of Woodcock Fashion Show – This fashion show clip from the film is narrated by Adam Buxton, for those who just want to take what little there is offered and enjoy it.

Behind the Scenes Photographs – There are twelve minutes worth of behind the scenes photos here, by Michael Bauman, which also are accompanied by music from Greenwood.

Universal Pictures Presents Phantom Thread. Written & Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville. Running time: 130 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: April 10, 2018.

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