Phantom Thread

Phantom Thread is a 2017 American period romantic drama film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, set in the haute couture world of London in the 1950s. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a couturier who takes a young waitress, played by Vicky Krieps, as his muse;[6] it is Day-Lewis's final role[7] before his retirement.[8] The film is the first Anderson film shot outside the United States, with principal photography beginning in January 2017 in Lythe, England. It is Anderson's second collaboration with Day-Lewis, following There Will Be Blood (2007), and his fourth with composer Jonny Greenwood.

Phantom Thread
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPaul Thomas Anderson
Produced by
Written byPaul Thomas Anderson
Music byJonny Greenwood
Edited byDylan Tichenor
Distributed by
Release date
  • December 11, 2017 (2017-12-11) (Walter Reade Theater)
  • December 25, 2017 (2017-12-25) (United States)
Running time
130 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States[3]
Budget$35 million[4]
Box office$47.8 million[5]

Phantom Thread premiered in New York City on December 11, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States on December 25, 2017.[9] The film received praise for its acting, screenplay, direction, musical score, costume design, and production values. It was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2017.[10]

At the 90th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Day-Lewis, Supporting Actress for Lesley Manville and Best Original Score, and won for Best Costume Design. It also earned four nominations at the 71st British Academy Film Awards, winning for Best Costume Design,[11] and received two Golden Globe nominations.[12]


In 1950s London, well-known fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) creates dresses for members of high society. His charisma is matched by his obsessive and controlling personality. Cyril (Lesley Manville), his sister, manages the day-to-day operations of his fashion house and has significant influence over his life. The superstitious Reynolds is haunted by the death of their mother, and often stitches hidden messages into the linings of the dresses he makes.

After designing a new gown for a revered client, Countess Henrietta Harding (Gina McKee), Reynolds visits a restaurant in the countryside and becomes interested in a foreign waitress, Alma Elson (Vicky Krieps). He asks her to have dinner with him, and she accepts. Their relationship develops, and she moves in with him, becoming his model, muse and lover. Cyril initially distrusts Alma but comes to respect her willfulness and determination.

At first, Alma enjoys being a part of Reynolds' work, but he proves aloof, hard to please and overly finicky. They begin to bicker. When Alma tries to show her love for Reynolds by preparing a romantic dinner for two, he lashes out, saying he will not tolerate deviations from the routines he has worked hard to perfect. Alma “retaliates” by poisoning Reynolds' tea with wild mushrooms gathered outside his country house. As he readies a wedding gown for a Belgian princess, Reynolds collapses, damaging the dress and forcing his staff to work all night to repair it. He becomes gravely ill and has hallucinations of his mother. Alma nurses him back to health. He asks her to marry him; she accepts.

After a brief honeymoon, Reynolds and Alma soon start bickering again. Cyril reveals to Reynolds that the Countess is now a client at a rival fashion house, and hints that his classical designs have begun appearing out-of-date. As Reynolds feels his work is suffering, he concludes it may be time to break up with Alma, who overhears the conversation. Back at the country house, Alma responds by making Reynolds a poisoned omelette. As he chews his first bite, she informs him that she wants him weak and vulnerable with only her to take care of him. Reynolds swallows the omelette and tells her to kiss him before he becomes sick, implying that he has figured out—and has submitted to—her ruse. As Reynolds lies ill, Alma imagines their future with children, a rich social life, and her running the dressmaking business as a partner. She acknowledges that while there may be challenges ahead, their love and their new arrangement can overcome them.



Anderson became interested in the fashion industry after reading about designer Cristóbal Balenciaga.[16] Lead character, Reynolds Woodcock, is said to be loosely inspired by English-American fashion designer, Charles James.[17]


Principal photography began in late January 2017 in Lythe, England, United Kingdom,[18][19] with a number of other locations in the North York Moors National Park also featuring, including Robin Hood's Bay and Staithes.[20] Filming also took place in 2017 at Owlpen Manor in the Cotswolds[21] and in the London neighborhood of Fitzrovia, in Fitzroy Square, and Grafton Mews.[22] Woodcock drives a maroon Bristol 405 in the film.[23] Filming also took place at the Grandhotel Giessbach, Brienz, Switzerland, Lake Brienz and Brienzer Rothorn. The New Year's Eve party was filmed at the Blackpool Tower ballroom with approximately 500 supporting artistes.[24]

It was reported in June 2017 that Anderson would be serving as his own cinematographer on the film as his regular cinematographer Robert Elswit was unavailable during production.[25] However, Anderson refuted the claim in November, stating that there is no official credit for the cinematography and that it was a "collaborative effort".[16] Michael Bauman, who previously worked as Anderson and Elswit's gaffer, was credited as "lighting cameraman". Anderson and Bauman pushed their 35mm film stock and filled the frame with haze in order to "dirty up" the image; according to Bauman, "One of the first things [Paul] said was, 'Look, this cannot look like The Crown.' That was a big thing. When people think of a period movie it becomes this beautifully polished, amazingly photographed—I mean, The Crown looks beautiful—but super clean, gorgeous light, and he was clear it couldn't look like that."[26]


The music for the soundtrack is composed by Jonny Greenwood, who had previously worked with the director on the soundtracks for There Will Be Blood (2007), The Master (2012) and Inherent Vice (2014).


Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville's performances garnered critical acclaim and earned them Academy Award nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.

Box office

Phantom Thread grossed $21.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $26.6 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $47.8 million, against a production budget of $35 million.[5]

After three weeks in limited release, where it made a total of $2.8 million, the film was added to 834 theaters on January 19, 2018 (for a total of 896) and grossed $3.8 million over the weekend, finishing 12th at the box office.[27] The subsequent weekend, following the announcement of its six Oscar nominations, and having added an additional 125 theaters, the film grossed $2.9 million.[28]

Critical response

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 91% based on 317 reviews, and an average rating of 8.47/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Phantom Thread's finely woven narrative is filled out nicely by humor, intoxicating romantic tension, and yet another impressively committed performance from Daniel Day-Lewis."[29] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 90 out of 100, based on 51 critics, indicating "universal acclaim."[30]

The A.V. Club's A. A. Dowd gave the film an A−, calling it a "charitable and even poignantly hopeful take on the subject [of being in a relationship with an artist]" and said that "in the simple, refined timelessness of its technique, Phantom Thread is practically a love letter to classic aesthetic values—cinematic, sartorial, or otherwise."[31] Observer critic Mark Kermode gave the film five stars, describing it as "a deftly spun yarn," and praised Daniel Day-Lewis' performance, calling his role as a "perfect fit [in a] beautifully realised tale of 50s haute couture."[32]

Christy Lemire of the LAFCA placed the film second on her list of ten best films of 2017, describing it as "captivating" and "one of Paul Thomas Anderson's absolute best," as well as singling out Jonny Greenwood's score as "intoxicating."[33] Michael Wood, writing for the London Review of Books, saw the film as unsuccessfully referencing other gothic films such as Rebecca from the 1940s. He wrote: "Can we imagine a long future for this couple? The film can, and does, but the picture is so hackneyed − pram, baby, walk in the park − that it has to be a dream, or an irony."[34]

Top ten lists

Phantom Thread was listed on many critics' top ten lists for 2017.[35]



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  2. "Phantom Thread (15)". British Board of Film Classification. November 30, 2017. Retrieved December 2, 2017.
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  15. Raup, Jordan (January 31, 2017). "Lesley Manville & More Join Paul Thomas Anderson's Next Film; Johnny Greenwood Confirmed to Score". The Film Stage. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
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  27. D'Alessandro, Anthony (January 21, 2018). "January Slows As 'Jumanji' Takes No. 1 For 3rd Weekend With $19M To $20M; Older Guy Pics '12 Strong' & 'Den of Thieves' In Mid-Teens". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
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