As a general narrative, the May-December romance can either be predictable and boring, or the audience walks into the theater thinking they know what they will be watching and is then surprised by out of left field choices made by the writer or writers.
In the new film, Phantom Thread, the never married middle-aged brother and sister duo Reynolds and Cyril Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville) are the faces one of the most respected fashion houses in 1950’s London. Their clientele are the whose who of society. Reynolds is meticulous in everything that he does. He also has a string of young lovers/muses who often come and go in a blink of an eye. Enter Alma (Vicky Krieps). Working as a waitress, Alma and Reynolds’s meet cute is at the restaurant where she works. She soon abandons her life for a life with Reynolds. Reynolds finds himself in love, but also learns that Alma is not afraid to call out his bullsh*t when she deems it necessary. She also turns his once carefully ordered world upside down.
What I especially liked about this movie is that writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson does not allow his characters to remain as 2D caricatures that have been seen far too many times. Instead he has created characters with shades of gray who are far from perfect. I also liked that the ending was not cut and dry. The ending was far from the typical ending of a romantic drama and left open quite a few questions about the character’s future that in another writer’s hands, would have been tied together just a little too neatly. While the film is a little slow, it is definitively worth a trip to the movie theater.
I recommend it.
Phantom Thread is currently in theaters.