Daniel Day-Lewis’ Kinky Pleasure in Phantom Thread

A dressmaker’s model can be erotic, or comic. Just look at the women who wear the extravagant frocks designed by Reynolds Woodcock as played to austere perfection by Daniel Day-Lewis in Paul Thomas Anderson’s film Phantom Thread. You have Barbara Rose, a wealthy rotund patron with the great Harriet Harris in the role, and you have Alma, a young Vicky Krieps, a waitress Woodcock brings into his life, who seems quite malleable until she learns how to take charge. House of Woodcock runs with efficiency, led by Cyril, Woodcock’s sister. In this role, the elegant Lesley Manville turns icy and knowing commanding seamstresses, fitters, and her brother, while understanding his whimsical needs. Set in London’s couture world of the 1950’s, Phantom Thread starts as a period drama, a love story for a character ruled by aesthetics. This tale—with its domestic detail-- turns kinky and subversive without becoming perverse. Yeow!!!!

At a premiere in early December, at the Harold Pratt House, Daniel Day-Lewis stayed just long enough to take pictures with his three women, Manville, Harris, and Krieps before taking off. He’s averse to crowds, even this one, including among the models and other well-wishers: Ben Foster, Paul Haggis, Michael Shannon, Sienna Miller, JC Chandor, Dana Delany and Frances McDormand. Vicky Krieps, in a red lace Alexander McQueen, told those gathering around her, she’s from Luxembourg, and lives in Berlin, and procrastinated her taped audition thinking this was a student film. Did she get to know the real Day-Lewis? She thinks she did.

Meantime, it is hard to imagine a performer as good as Daniel Day-Lewis signing off acting after this movie. He has said this is the last before. Through the awards season, with particular attention to his Reynolds Woodcock, everyone is betting, certainly hoping, for more.

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