Critics Celebrate Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Phantom Thread’ as a ‘Gem,’ ‘Pure Delicious Pleasure’

“With ‘Phantom Thread,’ Anderson has crafted one of his best-looking works to date”

Daniel Day-Lewis is going out with a bang, according to critics, because his new movie “Phantom Thread” is enchanting them all.

“With ‘Phantom Thread,’ Anderson has crafted one of his best-looking works to date,” wrote USA Today’s Brian Truitt. Uproxx’s Keith Phipps penned his praise: “Anderson has made a strange, entrancing, often darkly funny film that’s at once like nothing he’s ever made and one no one else could make, one filled with some of the year’s most striking images.”

TheWrap’s film critic Robert Abele called the film “mesmerizing,” adding, “at heart, ‘Phantom Thread’ is a classy, curious fractured fairy tale and, on the runway of Anderson’s career, a beautiful head-turner.”

Day-Lewis plays a designer named Reynolds Woodcock who clothes high-society women. He rotates muses until meeting Alma (Vicky Krieps), who becomes his inspiration and his lover. But Reynolds finds his world of design disrupted by love — and the people closest to him take notice. The film also stars Lesley Manville, Camilla Rutherford and Richard Graham. It will be released on Dec. 25.

“Phantom Thread” marks Anderson’s first feature-length film in three years. His last film was 2014’s “Inherent Vice,” while his other credits include “There Will Be Blood,” “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights.”

In June, Day-Lewis said he is retiring from his longtime craft of acting — again.

“Daniel Day-Lewis will no longer be working as an actor. He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years,” a statement from his spokesperson read.

See seven of the best reviews here:

David Edelstein, Vulture

“‘Phantom Thread’ adopts a sinister, Hitchcockian tone before resolving itself into a folie à deux that is too fou for words — preposterous, in fact, although this is the director who once opened his characters’ hearts by pelting them with frogs. Said resolution makes psychological sense but needed a few more beats to work itself into our bloodstream. Much has been made of Anderson’s attraction to stories of fathers, generally terrible ones. But in ‘Phantom Thread’ – as in ‘Punch Drunk Love’ — we can discern the longing of a little boy for a mommy-lover. Does Woodcock’s clinging to order signal a desire to surrender, even to the brink of death? I doubt Anderson imagines a better design for living.”

Brian Truitt, USA Today: 

With ‘Phantom Thread,’ Anderson has crafted one of his best-looking works to date. Even for non-fashion mavens, the costumes and wardrobes are stellar, it’s sumptuously shot from the rooms in Woodcock manor to a New Year’s party downtown, and the film gets a nice mood boost courtesy of a baroque-tinged score from Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood.”

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly:

“But until the late going, the film engages mostly on the level of watching a great actor at work than as enthralling drama (although Jonny Greenwood’s score and Mark Bridges’ costume design are stunning). It isn’t until the final stretch of the story, when Alma, the simple country girl in the dizzying world of high fashion, proves to have an inner sadomasochistic edge to her desire and passion, that the film perks up and grabs your attention instead of just your admiration — even if it does verge on being a bit goofy. Still, it’s a relief to see ‘Phantom Thread’ shift gears from too-tame to torrid and twisted. You may even find yourself leaning forward in your seat, saying under your breath: Okay, finally! Here we go! It takes a bit too long for Anderson to get there, but for the most part, the wait ends up being worth it.”

Clayton Davis, Awards Circuit:

“‘Phantom Thread’ permeates with an ability to offer self-reflection about the lessons in which it’s trying to teach.  It’s deliberate in its drama and undeniable in its effectiveness of virtually every viewpoint of its production.  Its witty script and eye-candy garments are smolderingly sinister in the way it packs its emotional punch throughout. ‘Phantom Thread’ is a gem, as it saturates with class, banter, and a refreshing mood.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“There is such pure delicious pleasure in this film, in its strangeness, its vehemence, its flourishes of absurdity, carried off with superb elegance. And Woodcock’s sartorial creations have a surreal quality, decadent, like dishes at a Roman banquet. Can this really be Daniel Day-Lewis’s final performance? He’s said that it is and he is not someone for speaking casually. We have to assume that this is goodbye. Maybe this is how onlookers felt at Nijinsky’s last public performance in 1917, which reputedly made Arthur Rubinstein burst into tears. It’s a wonderful high note for Day-Lewis to end on: I feel a mixture of euphoria and desperate sadness.”

Keith Phipps, Uproxx

“Anderson has made a strange, entrancing, often darkly funny film that’s at once like nothing he’s ever made and one no one else could make, one filled with some of the year’s most striking images — the sun beating down on a snow-covered lodge, a New Year’s celebration that Woodcock watches without being able to join — and characters whose passion gets in the way of their happiness, and whose ways of doing things sometimes have to be broken if they have any hope of happiness at all.”

William Bibbiani, IGN

“Gorgeous and unpredictable, and maybe a little indulgent, ‘Phantom Thread’ is another fascinating drama from Paul Thomas Anderson, with captivating lead performances by Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps.”