Daniel Day-Lewis, In His Last Role, Makes a Very Convincing Dressmaker in the First Trailer for Phantom Thread

Is it a ghost story? And is the three-time Best Actor winner about to become a designer himself?

Phantom Thread
Focus Features

Ten years after Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson, two of Hollywood’s foremost three-name brands, first collaborated on There Will Be Blood—a film for which Day-Lewis won his second of three Academy Awards for Best Actor—they’re back with Phantom Thread, which is reportedly the actor’s final film before his retirement. (Day-Lewis announced earlier this summer, via his publicist, that he “will no longer be working as an actor.”) The first trailer for Phantom Thread, which debuted Monday, offers a first look at Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock, an English couturier designing for society ladies (“dressing royalty, movie stars, heiresses, socialites, debutantes and dames with the distinct style of The House of Woodcock,” reads the film’s synopsis) in the middle of the 20th century. Day-Lewis might be leaving the screen, but he was apparently so taken with playing a designer—a role for which he apparently trained for three years—he is considering getting into the business for real.

The trailer opens with a shot of a car rolling up to a grand manor and then, almost immediately, cuts to Day-Lewis plucking his eyebrows, combing his hair, and pulling up his socks. “You can sew almost anything into the canvas of a coat,” he says in a voice-over. “When I was a boy, I started to hide things in the linings of the garments—things that only I knew were there.” By now, the scene has shifted again: Day-Lewis, as Woodcock, sits in a restaurant. He observes a waitress, wearing a deep burgundy shift, trip and catch herself. Their eyes meet, they both smile shyly, and she walks over to him. “Good morning,” she says. “Will you have dinner with me?” he asks. She pauses—for a long time. It gets kind of awkward. “Yes.”

The waitress, Alma, played by actress Vicky Krieps, is a strong-willed young woman who becomes Woodcock’s love interest and muse when he unexpectedly falls for her, in spite of—or perhaps because of—her own very specific taste, which sometimes clashes with his own. (“I don’t like the fabric,” she says of one of his designs. “Maybe, one day, you’ll change your taste,” he tells her. “Maybe I like my own taste.”) It also seems she spends her days alternately modeling his clothes and wandering with him through various remote destinations.

But Phantom Thread also takes a noirish turn towards the end of the trailer; Woodcock’s sister Cyril, played by Lesley Manville, tells Alma that her “brother can feel cursed, that love is doomed for him.” The man himself echoes this: “There is an air of quiet death in this house,” he says. Then, it ends, with Alma’s ominous words. “Whatever you do, do it carefully,” she tells him as they hold hands on a blustery hill.

So it begs the question: Is Phantom Thread actually a ghost story? Probably not, but a high-fashion Crimson Peak is something we could be on board with.

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