The Movie: 9/10
Movies that make me feel unsettled and calm at the same time are in a very slim category. I would say that Paul Thomas Anderson is the one who makes most of them. His movies do a thing that I see as an ocean with a calm surface and deadly under currents. The quietness of Phantom Thread makes it appear harmless and delicate, and yet that music, the performances, the subtle dialog and behaviors of the characters all feel like if I dip my foot under that surface of the calm I would get devoured by the emotional violence of what hides beneath.
Yes, it’s that dramatic. A man driven by success, or approval, or something that’s always somewhat hidden, finds a young woman who acts as his muse for his dress making process. What he doesn’t know is that his under current has met its match. She’s quiet and subtle and calm on the surface, but even in her most beautifully dulcet scenes the glimmer in her eye, or the slight lift of the corner of her mouth hints at the storm beneath.
I constantly had that feeling of pending explosion. Convinced that at anytime a character would go into a sudden fit of violence or emotional meltdown I was uneasy through the whole thing. The amazing thing about Paul Thomas Anderson is that while I felt uneasy I also felt hypnotized and pleased and what I was seeing on the screen was tricking my mind with the beauty of the sets, the costumes, the cinematography, and yet my gut felt tense and I even felt my head pushing back into my comfy chair at times when something in my body knew there was danger lurking, but my eyes were saying “It’s just so lovely to look at.”
As I mentioned, the performances are amazing and are the real heartbeat of this story. The beauty of it all, the music, the pace, it’s all precise and creates a kind of frame for these characters to live in, a glass delicate frame that feels like it will come crashing in at anytime. The way Anderson builds tension is borderline scary, like he’s leading us to some kind of horror story (eh hem, “I drink your milkshake!! I drink it down!!”) but in this story that build up is only satisfied if you let the quiet horror sink in to your mind and realize it’s even more frightening.
Overall I think this is an exceptional movie. It’s one of those that lingers for a while, I think back on it and I get that same feeling, uneasy but wrapped in a beautiful dream almost.
- Camera Tests (9 Minutes) – Paul Thomas Anderson does not usually do extras or commentaries. This technical walk through of camera and lighting used in the scenes is a fans dream.
- For The Hungry Boy Deleted Scenes (5 Minutes) – Various scenes with original music by Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead fame.
- House Of Woodcock Fashion Show (3 Minutes) – A short look at the fashion show with narration by Adam Buxton.
- Behind The Scenes Photographs (12 Minutes) – Lots of onset photos with more of Johnny Greenwood’s score.
- Blu-ray, DVD & UV Digital Copy
Audio & Video: 9/10
Phantom Thread comes to Blu-ray using a Lavish 1080P transfer supervised by Paul Thomas Anderson. Every frame of this film is dripping in detail and I can’t wait to see what the 4K release looks like (it releases in about a month). Black levels are solid and I saw no evidence of Macro-blocking throughout the entire run-time.
Audio is handled using the DTS:X Master Audio format and is an absolute stunner. Johnny Greenwood’s music is as much a character in this film as the main actors and it’s always present and clear. Dialog is very centralized and music often wells in the surround speakers. This is a beautiful looking and sounding Blu-ray one Universal should be proud of.
Overall Score 9/10