Phantom Thread gradually draws you into an intense and complex power play between two people. That it is charmingly set in Britain in the 50s adds to the feeling of elegance and brings out the darker parts of the movie in greater contrast.
Daniel Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock a highly sought after dress designer who is a sort of a diva and exploits his artistic status to the hilt. He is difficult, demanding and prone to acquiring and discarding women as his Muses. He is also extremely close to his sister who has a strong hold over him. Enter Alma, a new Muse who moves into his home and who falls in love with him. The difference between her and the others is that though she is in awe of his talent, she finds his entire artistic persona and eccentricities to be a bit of a fraud. However, her love is deep and as a woman possessed by love, she seeks to possess him in turn. Does she manage to do that and what means does she adopt form the crux of the story.
The story moves at a languid pace, slowly stirring things up till they reach proportions where the drama in the emotions is akin to watching a car chase or a gunfight. The deft way in which power keeps passing between the main actors is quite masterful and you watch in dismayed amusement as different characters get taken for a ride at different points in time. There is a lot of dark comedy and the subtleness with which Alma, Turncock and Cyril play their hands will draw you in completely.
The subtleness of the story demands masterful acting from the cast and they deliver with great aplomb. Daniel Day-Lewis as the fragile artist with a big ego is demanding, irritating, charming and childlike by turns. Vicky Krieps as Alma alternates between being disarming and showing a powerful personality with nerves of steel. Her character knows what it wants and in a guileless manner goes around getting it. Lesley Manville as Cyril provides the right support to these two highly strung characters.
This is an entertaining dark comedy about love, the power it can wields and the twisted shapes it can take. It will slowly stitch you into its fabric with its unseen phantom threads and leave you thinking about relationships long after it's over.