Phantom Thread is Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film, and I left the theater trying to figure out what to make of it. The story is simple: dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) meets a waitress, Alma (Vicky Krieps), and they begin a relationship in which she becomes his new muse and must find her role in her new life while vying for his attention with Reynolds’ high-class clients and his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville). Soon, Alma begins to assert herself as the primary woman in Reynolds’ life and eventually demonstrates the implications of that role to him and the audience. Phantom Thread is a beautiful movie but the great camerawork and outstanding performances hide layers of meaning based principally on the complicated relationship at the center of the movie.
Although the film is a romance, there are some horror and thriller elements that helped me comprehend what was happening. To understand some of these aspects of the film better, I recommend thinking about it in relation to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Psycho, as well as Olivier Assayas’ Personal Shopper.