If you haven’t seen Phantom Thread…go see it.
The costumes, Daniel Day Lewis, the nod to Pygmalion, the Ascots…the costumes…did I mention the ascots?? The stunning visuals and a complex tale of two soul mates who had there been therapy, they never ever would have made it. In fact, while reading if the story were true or not, I came across another article about the behavioral and mental health issues associated with the two….yawn.
Yes…yawn. It was so refreshing to see a movie about two people that just “went with it”. At some point we all have just accept each other as is…and allow whatever colors we are to paint itself in the world.
If anyone as been around most great artists, they are plagued with a myriad of symptoms from the DSM-5. Woodcock (Day-Lewis) is a walking masterpiece of obsessive compulsiveness, high sensitivity, a myriad of mood disorders, and a little bit of adorable asshole mixed all in one. Yes…he’s such an ass that the audible gasps from the audience from some of his lines had me giggling.
But, he’s a genius…his art as a haute contour dress maker, and his utter dedication to the craft, his passion makes him incredible lovable at the same time. He finds his muse in an unlikely place and so begins the tumultuous love that leads them both to the brink.
Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress, we no little about only that her instant connection with Woodcock begins a love affair and marriage fraught with passion. She loves him, sometimes the audience might not understand why, but for me it was evident-she understood him. There is this brilliant line where one of his dresses is being worn by a woman with incredibly crass behavior. Woodcock is besides himself. You see…that’s his art that she is wearing and to him she is disrespecting it.
When the woman leaves to go back to her hotel room, or rather, she’s carried out to her hotel room. Alma takes Woodcock by the hand and they demand the dress be given back. Alma barges into the room, rips the dress off the passed out woman and says, “You will never behave in such a way in a dress from the House of Woodcock like that again!” And out she goes, with the dress, back to her beloved, returning his creation. Protecting his art…if that’s not what is true love, I don’t know what is.
These two struggle that all lovers deal with the balance between strength and vulnerability, and learning to share a creative space. Alma, like love itself, comes in and completely shakes up Woodcock’s perfect world that he has created. Changes must occur and some of those are painful for him, he doesn’t wan to give them up. Love is a bit of a surrender.
Alma longs to break down Woodcock’s walls, which she eventually does in the most (and I’m laughing) completely unexpected way possible. I won’t ruin it for you. It actually has you scratching your head going,…”did that just happen?” The end scene where you realize he’s a more than willing participant in her plan…well…sheer theatrical and psychological brilliance.
To give you some peak into it, it’s a little bit of a dance with death. But isn’t that what love is sometimes, a bit of a death? Woodcock is so egotistical that it’s sickening. By the end of the movie, we see him die to that self. That’s why vulnerability is so difficult, it’s a death of your prized protector…your ego.
You can’t get to the deep sort of soulful love that changes your life.