Actor Daniel Day-Lewis has played any number of difficult, even unpleasant men over the course of his remarkable career. And he is famously exacting and disciplined in his approach to his art. So perhaps it’s fitting that his (self-proclaimed) final role is that of Reynolds Woodcock, a difficult, even unpleasant man who is also exacting and disciplined about his art — designing ladies’ couture in ‘50s London. The film opens on the face of his muse and lover Alma (Vicky Krieps), who purrs that he has made her dreams come true before noting, “And I’ve given him what he desires.” Just what exactly that means — some pleasures are decidedly more rarefied, or at the very least less obvious, than others — is writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s subject here. It’s a mystery that doles out its first clue in Woodcock’s opening-scene dismissal of his final pre-Alma paramour: he simply doesn’t have the time for her. The level of control all ‘round — director, actor, script, character — borders on oppressive; if Anderson’s The Master was a swirling miasma, Phantom Thread is an unforgiving dress. It presents an ideal and even inspires wonder, but it does make breathing difficult, and heaven help you if all you want is to have a good time. (2017) — Matthew Lickona
This movie is not currently in theaters.