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Phantom Thread

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Phantom Thread Movie Poster Image
Elegant power struggle in the fashion world; salty language.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 130 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie is about the power struggle between men and women. It places a great deal of stress on looks, especially female looks.

Positive Role Models & Representations

None of the three main characters takes the high road; their methods are usually pushy, controlling, or underhanded. A woman refuses to let herself be put down or controlled by a man, but she does so in not-particularly-admirable ways. The male lead is a respected and accomplished dressmaker, but he's not a very nice person most of the time.


Arguing. Attempts at poisoning.


Suggestion of sex (offscreen). Passionate kiss. Women are shown dressing and undressing, down to their underwear; sometimes nipples are visible.


Uses of "f--k" and "f--king," plus "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A minor character gets drunk and passes out. Social drinking. Smoking.

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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDarylTheStudent February 19, 2018

Phantom Thread

If you haven't gotten the memo yet, Phantom Thread is Daniel Day-Lewis' last film before his retirement from acting in films. If that is so, he ends h... Continue reading
Adult Written byChris F. January 23, 2018

Disappointing mish-mush

I had high hopes this might be an interesting and provocative story but right off the bat it fell flat. Scenes linger without a great amount of purpose. The ba... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byKingRobert December 25, 2017

True Beauty

I pretty nice movie.
Teen, 14 years old Written byHenry Hill15 February 15, 2018

Great film - should be fine for all teens who are interested in it

Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom thread is an interesting and incredibly well directed film with beautiful cinematography, an engaging story and outstanding... Continue reading

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 ...

  • Families can talk about Phantom Thread's violence. How much of it is physical, and how much is psychological? What's the difference? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • 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.

  • How is drinking portrayed? Is it glamorized? Are there consequences? Why does that matter?

  • 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?

Movie details

For kids who love drama and romance

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