A gothic romance masquerading as an elegant period drama, Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread is an intricate and odd examination of lonely, egocentric characters, each of which grapples over power and control in their shared relationship. Centered around renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, Phantom Thread establishes its main character as meticulously detailed and in control of his environment, a man who has seen his personal ambitions lead to destruction in his pursuit of any shared human experience, mainly in this case love. Woodcock's relationships, the companionship which it provides only serve egocentric purposes to this man, a character who draws inspiration between various muses until they wear him down with their audacity to want something in return. Meeting his match with the strong-willed Alma, Woodcock finds his control and power disrupted by his inability to shed Alma, as the forces of love grab onto this driven man. Alma, a character who doesn't exactly fit in to Woodcock's world of extravagance finds her own control tested at every turn, a character who grows more and more desperate to seize some power in their shared relationship, unwilling to accept Woodshock's companionship as she wants to be admired and appreciated by Woodcock as much, if not more, than appreciates his craft. Placing more blame on one character or the other in this turbulent relationship is far from the point of Anderson's Phantom Thread, as what Anderson has accomplished with this film is a piercing and honest deconstruction of love, showcasing through these two lonely characters how they find a bit of solace in their shared alienation, each grappling to feel appreciated by the other in the space in which they care most deeply about. Woodcock is in constant pursuit of perfection and appeasing the family business, while Alma simply wants time alone with her husband void of any distractions besides their shared love. While these things at first may seem completely different they are both the things which each other values most, yet through much of the story neither of these characters show much willingness to accept their partner's wishes outright, which leads to escalation and strife Phantom Thread touches on the personal sacrifices related to companionship any driven artist makes, yet its main commentary relates to the push-and-pull of love, acknowledging the hard work and sacrifice that takes place while showcasing how it's in the shared movements which people find happiness and love. While both these characters tend to be self-serving and pine for control of the relationship, their turbulent and sometimes absurdist journey leads them to eventually find solace and some semblance of happiness in each other through their ability to embrace their shared sense of alienation. Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread is a singular examination of the forces of love and companionship, a ravishing piece of cinema which showcases the malleability of love and companionship itself, despite our attempts as human-beings to define it in some deeply romanticized form.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.