Mushroom for the Unexpected

If it’s truly his last it perhaps will not be remembered as his greatest performance, but it connected enough to get a chance for another golden man. He’s already won three – ‘My Left Foot’ (1989), ‘There Will Be Blood’ (2007) and ‘Lincoln’ (2012), His vehicle is in the hunt, but by rights should be blown away by ‘Three Billboards….’. We’ll see.

‘Phantom Thread’ is gorgeous to look at with director Paul Thomas Anderson delivering a fifties sensibility that’s quite sensational. He displays as fine a feel for this decade as he did for the seventies, making ‘Inherent Vice’ such a memorable movie back in 2014. This latest offering almost reaches those heights, but remains a very different affair in subject matter.

To say dress designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day Lewis) is set in his ways and unbearably aloof is an understatement. It’s immediately apparent from the start, once we enter his stultifying world of high-end London fashion. He also possesses a volcanic temper. It’s a marvellously mannered performance from DDL, thus the Oscar nomination. The only person who seems to keep a handle on him is his austere sister Cyril (Lesley Manville – also a nominee). It is not unusual for this highly-strung specimen to have one of his strings broken – and when this occurs he retreats from the capital to the English coast for some salty air. It is on one such occasion he encounters a clumsy waitress, who’s anything but clumsy when it comes to entrapping the hitherto standoffish one. She quickly becomes his lover and eventually a model for his creations, his muse. But life isn’t easy with the great man having sis constantly at his elbow. He patently loves his struggling partner to bits, but she annoys him intensely and his reluctance to bend in any way, shape or form drives her nuts. Can they find a way to live under the one roof? A most unusual solution is eventually hit upon. Belgian actress Vicky Krieps is luminous up on screen as the beguiling and eventually under siege Alma.

Reviewers Stratton and Byrnes both awarded the movie 3.5 stars, both stating it lacked the essential ingredient to take it to the top rung of classics. But it kept me engrossed throughout, although without delivering the number of killer punches the Academy Award favourite throws at you.

And as for mushrooms – well, I’m not letting that cat out of the bag. Suffice to say ‘Phantom Thread’ does give the viewer one killer punch. That’s all I’ll say. Go see it.

Trailer for the movie –

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