Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017


A fashion designer dresses up a waitress.


Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day Lewis) is the most renowned creator in London. He’s supported by his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) who takes care of the business. He falls in love with Alma (Vicky Krieps) during a short break in the country.

I feel as if I’ve been looking for you for a very long time.

Alma becomes his muse, his assistant, his partner and his nurse. She shares everything with him and have to handle his changing mood. He needs her and can’t stand her. He’s about to fire Alma so she poisons the man to better take care of him. Once he recovers, they get married. But soon the tension comes back. They are both jealous. Reynolds doesn’t like that Alma gets closer to Dr Hardy (Brian Gleeson). She dislikes that Princess Mona Braganza (Lujza Richter) takes all of his attention. So she cooks a poisoned meal again, as a declaration of love.

I want you flat on your back. Helpless, tender, open with only me to help. And then I want you strong again.

He looks at her in the eyes while he eats her omelette. He happily gets sick again.


Phantom Thread is about toxic relationships.

The way Reynolds and Alma meet is beautiful. It’s uncommon, organic. It doesn’t happen anymore (cf Newness). They have a crush on each other. And when he steals her note to see if she printed his order, it’s just a way for him to see if she was present. He wanted to see that she cared. And she did. In return, she’s just asking him to be gentle.

Whatever you do, do it carefully.

Which he is. He dresses up women as a craftsman. So he naturally cares for them and their details.

But Reynolds is also tempestuous. After all, everyone has a down side. He’s extremely sensitive to his routine. He over reacts to anything disturbing – with class.

The tea is leaving, but the interruption is staying right here with me!

That makes him very difficult to live with, especially for Alma who’s far more natural. Many women gave up. His sense of preciousness and perfection can be pretty heavy. Instead she appreciates simplicity and just wants to have fun. The two are very different and they seek for that difference. But accepting the difference is a challenge. She suffocates and he feels she brings a shadow to his house. Reynolds and Alma live in a constant drama. They are close to separate many times.

Is this an ambush? Are you sent here to ruin my evening? And possibly my entire life?

That doesn’t mean they do not love each other. They are ready to hurt each other in the name of love, without killing each other.

You are not cursed. You are loved by me.

They actually need one another. Alma has character. She’s been able to earn Cyril’s trust. She is fresh. She moves him. She’s the hidden piece of fabric in the garment.

A house that doesn’t change is a dead house.

It’s because of her that he’s still hungry.

I’m hungry.

On the other hand he pushes her to excellency. Thanks to him, she can access a world she would have never hoped for. He elevates her. She feels unique because of him.

Their relationship is difficult to understand because we’ve been taught relationships had to be perfect to be happy. We consider Amy as a criminal (cf Gone Girl). Some people are looking for a fairy tale. Some others thrive over intensity. For Reynolds and Amy, it just can’t be otherwise.

Is it bad to be toxic? Should we consider love in terms of good and evilWhat is love?


This publication reflects the views only of the author.

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