In “Phantom Thread”, Paul Thomas Anderson weaves a masterpiece

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IN CLASSIC gothic romances, narrators are unreliable, heroines vulnerable, seducers potent and the settings bleak, imprisoning and full of secrets. In his new film, writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson (“There Will be Blood”, “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights”) unpicks and refashions these well-worn tropes into something new. Archetypes, such as a timid, “Rebecca”-like narrator, are toyed with, allowing the audience to feel a momentary sense of familiarity, before being discarded or subverted. 

Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is the favoured couturier to society beauties and royal brides in 1950s London. While his confections—from their inception as inky sketches, to the embroidered quotes he hides in their linings, to the final snip of a seamstress’ scissors—are multi-layered, exacting works of art, Reynolds’s character is mottled with ugly corruption (rather like Dorian Gray, with a twist). He can be petulant, rude, puerile, spoilt, controlling, tyrannical, obsessive, unfeeling, even cruel. He is devoted to…Continue reading

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