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“Phantom Thread” review

by Dakota Gordon

Award season is just around the corner and local theaters are taking advantage by screening (and re-screening) the nominees for Best Picture. With that in mind, the type of film nominated for such a prestigious honor likely depends on the depth or the poignancy of the message of the piece; films of pure enthusiasm, energy, and simplicity don’t often get the nod.

Phantom Thread has the make and model of a frontrunner in such a service, and after experiencing the taste for myself, it’s no surprise to me that it was considered fine dining. Even so, such a fanciful feast could be, to some extent, an acquired taste.

I had a similar experience watching Mother! as I did this, which is ironic considering the foundation of a mother is so crucial to both films. With the former, there was a sense of everything falling into place for the sake of sending a message, while here it all falls into place for the sake of telling a story.

That artificial manner of presentation and characterization works well here seeing as the character Daniel Day-Lewis is portraying and his line of work requires the use of cheerful personas and playing two-face. Whether this helps the entire movie really depends on what exactly one expects to get out of it.

For example, by about the eighty-minute mark, I started yawning, despite having well over eight hours of sleep. The frequency with which I checked my wristwatch increased the closer I got to the ending. I have never really considered myself a tried-and-true fanatic of cinematic ambition and splendor, though such things are always appreciated when I go out of my way to spend money on two hours of my life erased.

The point I hope to have created is that Phantom Thread gets by with its atmosphere, acting, attention to detail, and subtlety—without an ounce of concern for the sake of entertainment. Clinging to its almost mathematical formula of filmmaking and voice of intrigue; letting the writing take precedence over all else.

Watching Phantom Thread is almost akin to dissecting a classical novel, with all the tendencies that make it a passionate indulgence for many and overdiluted drivel to many others.

This film is a Marvel fan’s worst nightmare.

Calculating, efficient, tensile, sober, and comprehensively sinister, the type of cinema one would expect to see at a gala of schmoozy bigwigs wearing suits and ties while clinking their glasses of champagne together as they indulge in “fine art.” If this is your thing, you’ll be pounding the table for Phantom Thread to win all the awards. And if not, you won’t find much here to grip. Good acting, interesting scenarios, but until the very end, I was borderline unenthused.

Much like Mother!. A fine ending it was.

Overall rating: 7.5/10

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