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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Phantom Thread (Blu-ray)
Phantom Thread (Blu-ray)
Focus Features // R // April 10, 2018 // Region A
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted April 13, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Movie:

There's a certain sense of personal anticipation for me when it comes to Phantom Thread; it's the latest from Paul Thomas Anderson, whose work I've admired since first seeing Boogie Nights as I'm sure we all did, and I've tried to carve out time to see everything he does since; the star, Daniel Day-Lewis, worked previously on There Will Be Blood with PTA and the big buzz around this film was that he decided he would be retiring from acting after it. So there was a lot coming into the film to like.

DDL plays Reynolds Woodcock, a fashion designer in the mid-1950s in London. His acuity in creating and making clothes for the high society is only nearly matched by his high-maintenance personality. He has a desire for control which he is generously (and perhaps excessively) given, and he belittles those that attempt to help him, to the point of abuse at times. This changes somewhat when he meets Alma (Vicky Krieps, A Most Wanted Man), a waitress in a hotel restaurant in the countryside. They develop a relationship and more of the same abuse begins, exacerbated by Reynolds' sister and business manager Cyril (Lesley Manville, Mr. Turner). Alma starts to gently push back to Reynolds in the marriage and that's where things pick up even more.

There is a lot going on within the back and forth mini-battles between Reynolds and Alma that so many things come to mind; first and foremost for me was the sniping and food poisoning that occurs in the memorable dark comedy War of the Roses, but getting past that is the palpable tension of control, the lack thereof, and the attraction of both, and the tolerance of eccentricity when its main product is talent. DDL conveys all of this to note perfection, and does so in an inflection from him I haven't experienced before. He communicates power, frailty, and the attraction of someone that recognizes this in him.

Krieps is a minor revelation as Alba. There is a sequence in the film early in Reynolds and Alma's courtship where he is measuring her for a dress to wear, and you can see hear go from joy to sadness as Reynolds uses a tape measure from shoulders to hem. He points out her flaws in a cold manner, and he almost seems to not realize it. It's more analytical for him and perhaps even innocuous, but the damage is on Alba's face. As she grows more comfortable around Reynolds she isn't afraid to have the confrontation or two, occasionally in public, and the way she sheds the mouseish nature early on for more aspirational or bold behavior is an engaging transformation that Krieps handles with ease. Set against the wonderful and immersive backdrop that PTA has created, it holds its own against similar dramas from the era.

Often there may be a certain sense of disappointment when something ends, such as the collaboration of Anderson and Lewis (or more to the point, of Lewis' cinematic work). But Phantom Thread disposes of that and any lingering nostalgia with something that is compelling to watch because of so many different things, you're left with a certain sense of peace at the end of it. It is a very good film for Lewis to go out on, and for Anderson it's another accomplishment to an already loaded resume filled with a variety of subjects.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

Phantom Thread is presented in 1.85:1 high-definition from Universal/Focus and of note, is the first feature that PTA did cinematography for, depending on whether or not you count The Dirk Diggler Story I guess. But PTA shot in Panavision and the film looks gorgeous all the way through. The greens of the English countryside are vivid and possess ample detail, almost as much so the snowblown Swiss alps when Reynolds and Alma go on holiday. Whites are blown out with snow and lights for photos when they need to be, but colors are also just as vivid. The image of salt going onto asparagus includes discernible grains hitting the plate and detail like that is strong throughout the film. More DP from PTA.

The Sound:

DTS X from Universal that both shows off the majesty of Jonny Greenwood's unexpected and wonderful score, but when Reynolds and Alma are at dinner and Reynolds is not pleased with her, her chewing and plate habits are bumped up a little more to help illustrate this frustration (her ‘meal noise' was a subject of earlier discussion). It doesn't use the subwoofer too often but does complement any onscreen action nicely. Dialogue is well-balanced in the center channel and requires little compensation, and the BD release is very very strong.

Extras:

Interesting albeit a little abstract extras for the film, starting with some camera test footage with optional PTA commentary (8:42). Next up, some deleted scenes set to Greenwood's score, but edited together (4:51) and nice to watch, even if they lack dialogue. "House of Woodcock Fashion Show" is an in-character narration of a show with Reynolds' wares (2:47), then there's a stills gallery to complete things.

Final Thoughts:

I said earlier that I try to set aside the time to watch Paul Thomas Anderson films, possibly because of two certainties: the first is that I don't know what type of movie I will see, but that it is a movie that I will certainty enjoy and marvel as the work put in by the respective ensembles. Technically the film looks great, and the extras are on the shallow side (though it's something I've grown to expect from PTA discs). If you're not a PTA fan the film is worth seeing, if you're a PTA fan then you've probably seen the film already, so buying the Blu-ray should be academic at this point.

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