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.
Daniel Day Lewis is one of the best actors of his generation. A versatile, powerful actor, he disappears into his roles, making the audience forget that what they are seeing is fiction. But isn’t that the mark of any good actor?
Two of his best performances were in the 1990’s: The Crucible (1996) and The Last Of The Mohicans (1992).
Based on the classic Broadway play by Arthur Miller, The Crucible, based in Salem, Massachusetts, set during the infamous Salem Witch trials. John Proctor (Daniel Day Lewis) has foolishly had an affair with Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder), the teenaged niece of a local clergyman. When accusations of witchcraft begin to overtake the town and his wife Elizabeth (Joan Allen) is accused of witchcraft, John must face his neighbors and be able to look in the mirror at the same time.
This movie is extremely powerful. While it was based on the hunt by the American government for communists in the early 1950’s, it holds up as the fight between just going along with the crowd or standing up for what you believe in.
Four years earlier, Daniel Day Lewis was the lead character in The Last Of The Mohicans, based on the book of the same name by James Fenimore Cooper. Hawkeye or Nathaniel Poe (Daniel Day Lewis) is a frontiersman in upstate New York during the French and Indian War. A romance is initiated with a British colonel’s daughter, but a war on both sides of the border brewing, Nathaniel must decide what is the best course of action for his life.
This movie is not as good as The Crucible, but it is a window into the world of rural pre-revolutionary era America that no longer exists.
I recommend both.
Edith Wharton’s classic 1920 novel, The Age Of Innocence, can be described as the clash between personal desire and the driving force that tells us to do what is right and honorable.
Newland Archer is the scion of a well respected late 19th century New York society family. He is engaged to marry May Welland, the daughter of another well respected New York Society family. Newland has always done what is right and proper, never considering his own wants and needs. Then the Countess Ellen Olenska enters his life. Ellen, who is his fiance’s cousin, is attempting to divorce her abusive European aristocratic husband.
Initially Newland looks to help Ellen, who has become an outcast due to the divorce, because she is soon to be his cousin by marriage. But he will soon discover that he and Ellen have a spark and he must decide what he wants from life and who he wants to spend his life with.
In 1993, The Age Of Innocence was made into a movie with Daniel Day Lewis as Newland, Winona Ryder as May and Michelle Pfeiffer as Ellen.
I like both the book and the movie. Certain novels are considered classics because within the story or the characters, there is something we all can relate to, regardless of the time and place that the author set the story in. This novel is no different. What we as individuals need and want versus what the larger society tells us what we should need and want is a struggle that has never ceased.
I recommend both.