Phantom Thread is a 2017 American historical drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps. Set in 1950s London, it stars Day-Lewis as an haute couture dressmaker who takes a young waitress, played by Krieps, as his muse. The film was Day-Lewis’s final role before his retirement. The film is the first Anderson film shot outside the United States, with principal photography beginning in January 2017 in Lythe, England. It is Anderson’s second collaboration with Day-Lewis, following There Will Be Blood (2007), and his fifth with composer Jonny Greenwood.
Phantom Thread premiered in New York City on December 11, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States on December 25, 2017. The film received acclaim for its acting, screenplay, direction, musical score, costume design, and production values. It was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2017.
At the 90th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Day-Lewis, Supporting Actress for Lesley Manville and Best Original Score, and won for Best Costume Design. It also earned four nominations at the 71st British Academy Film Awards, winning for Best Costume Design, and received two Golden Globe nominations.
In 1954 London, fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock creates dresses for members of high society. His charisma is matched by his obsessive and controlling personality. Cyril, his sister, manages the day-to-day operations of his fashion house. The superstitious Reynolds is haunted by the death of their mother, and often stitches hidden messages into the linings of the dresses he makes.
After designing a new gown for a revered client, Countess Henrietta Harding, Reynolds visits a restaurant in the countryside and meets a foreign waitress, Alma Elson. She accepts his invitation to dinner. Their relationship develops, and she moves in with him, becoming his model, muse, and lover. Cyril initially distrusts Alma but comes to respect her willfulness and determination.
At first, Alma enjoys being a part of Reynolds’ work, but he proves aloof, hard to please, and finicky; as a result, they start to bicker. When Alma tries to show her love for Reynolds by preparing a romantic dinner, he lashes out, saying he will not tolerate deviations from the routines he has worked hard to perfect. Alma retaliates by poisoning Reynolds’ tea with wild mushrooms gathered outside his country house. As he readies a wedding gown for a Belgian princess, Reynolds collapses, damaging the dress and forcing his staff to work all night to repair it. He becomes gravely ill and has hallucinations of his mother, with Alma nursing him back to health.
After Reynolds recovers, he asks Alma to marry him, and she accepts. However, following their honeymoon, Reynolds and Alma start bickering again as Reynolds’ domineering personality resurfaces. Cyril reveals to Reynolds that the Countess is now a client at a rival fashion house, implying that his classical designs are growing out of date. As Reynolds fears his work may no longer be able to keep up, he blames Alma and concludes it may be time to end the marriage, a conversation she overhears.
At the country house, Alma makes Reynolds a poisoned omelet. As he chews his first bite, she informs him that she wants him weak and vulnerable so that only she can take care of him. Reynolds willingly swallows the omelet and tells her to kiss him. As Reynolds lies ill once again, Alma imagines their future with children, a rich social life, and her running the dressmaking business as a partner. She acknowledges that while there may be challenges ahead, their love and their new arrangement can overcome them.
Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock
Lesley Manville as Cyril Woodcock
Vicky Krieps as Alma Elson
Camilla Rutherford as Johanna
Gina McKee as Countess Henrietta Harding
George Glasgow as Nigel Cheddar-Goode
Brian Gleeson as Dr. Robert Hardy
Harriet Sansom Harris as Barbara Rose
Lujza Richter as Princess Mona Braganza
Julia Davis as Lady Baltimore
Nicholas Mander as Lord Baltimore
Philip Franks as Peter Martin
Phyllis MacMahon as Tippy
Silas Carson as Rubio Gurrerro
Richard Grahams George Riley
Peter Cobden as the fisherman
Ian Harrod as the Registrar
Jane Perry as Mrs. Vaughan
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