A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Phantom Thread is a drama from director Paul Thomas Anderson that's set in the fashion world of London of the 1950s. The main character, Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), is a couture icon and something of a womanizer -- until he meets one special woman. There's not a ton of iffy content, but the overall themes are fairly mature. Sex isn't shown, but it's suggested. Characters kiss, and there's some semi-nudity when women try on clothes and are shown in sheer underwear. Language includes a few heated uses of "f--k" and "f--king," as well as "hell." A minor character drinks until she passes out, and there's additional social drinking and smoking. Characters struggle for power in a largely negative way, arguing with, commanding, and even poisoning others.
What's the story?
In PHANTOM THREAD, Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a titan of the fashion world in 1950s London. He dresses everyone from stars of the stage and screen to royalty. He likes absolutely everything just so, and his stern, commanding sister/business partner, Cyril (Lesley Manville), does her best to make sure nothing changes. One day, while temporarily escaping the big city, Reynolds slips into a little diner and is entranced by a clumsy waitress, Alma (Vicky Krieps). He invites her to his home and dresses her, then keeps her around as a mannequin and muse. But as Alma starts to become just another one of Reynolds' conquests, she decides that she won't go down so easily and starts to assert her own kind of control over their relationship. Could this be love?
Is it any good?
Director Paul Thomas Anderson takes a break from films that are trying to "say something" to return to a story about people; this is one of his best, most beautiful, and most perverse works. Presented elegantly and slowly, Phantom Thread moves around Reynolds Woodcock's glorious mansion and work space, taking in all his intricate threadwork and admiring every drape and fold of the material. It's Jonny Greenwood's score that provides the sinister, anxious quality that lurks just under the exquisite surface. In certain ways, the movie is almost Hitchcockian.
Stripped of makeup and mannerisms, Day-Lewis gives something close to a basic human performance, but it's still commanding; his seductive use of masculinity recalls his earlier role in The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Manville stands out, too, locking her passions inside a starchy, austere character but still capable of doing so much with her eyes and sour line readings. It's refreshing that the movie avoids hysterics and major plot twists; it stays largely within the house and largely focused on these three characters as they subtly try to one-up each other's level of power. It's a grand movie, but it's also subtle and mischievous.
Talk to your kids about ...
How is sex depicted? Does it have anything to do with love or attraction here? Is it about power? What's the difference? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
The women in the movie struggle to establish their own power in the presence of a powerful man. How do they do this? Do they do it in a positive way or a destructive one? Are they role models?
- In theaters: December 25, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: April 10, 2018
- Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps
- Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
- Studios: Focus Features, Universal Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 130 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language
- Awards/Honors: Academy Award
For kids who love drama and romance
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.