Eppler: "Phantom Thread" is rich, vibrant, deeply personal

Eppler: "Phantom Thread" is rich, vibrant, deeply personal

As the title indicates, "Phantom Thread" is about hidden things - whether it's secrets between lovers or messages woven into a piece of art. Writer and Director Paul Thomas Anderson has made what feels like a deeply personal and intimate film primarily meant to please himself - even serving as his own director of photography. Like the artist at the center of the movie, he has an obsessive attention to detail in the craft that primarily defines him. P. T. Anderson even hides his initials in the film's title - making the connection even more explicit. 

Anderson is once again working with Daniel Day-Lewis. Their last movie together, "There Will Be Blood," may be the greatest film of the 21st century so far - not an overstatement. In what he claims is his final performance,  Day-Lewis stars here as Reynolds Woodcock - yes, really - a pretty amazing character name the actor came up with himself, according to Anderson. He's a famed dress maker in post World War II London who goes through girlfriends like reams of fabric. When he meets a waitress, Alma, played by Vicky Krieps, he starts going through the same motions as with the others, but finds she's not like the rest. She becomes his muse, reinvigorating his creativity, until the relationship starts to fray at the hems.

Reynold's sister and business partner Cyril, played by Lesley Manville, is used to making her brother's discarded girlfriends go away. But when Alma refuses to go quietly and fight for her place in the house, the movie starts taking surprising turns too tasty for any review to spoil.

"Phantom Thread" is essentially a chamber piece with three characters in one setting playing a psychological game. Anderson's script is rich, and his picture is sumptuously photographed. As with all his movies, music serves as the engine. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood punctuates scenes perfectly with his lovely piano-driven score. As one would expect, the costuming by Mark Bridges is a shoo-in for an Oscar. 

The three lead performances are all perfection but the real find is Krieps, who goes toe to toe with one of the finest film actors ever - without any sign of intimidation.

"Phantom Thread" is a marvelous movie, another masterwork from a true auteur. If there are flaws, I can't find them. Maybe I don't want to. 

Playing at Cinemark Movies 16 in Lubbock

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