Phantom Thread is a Master Class on How To Fail The Bechdel Test

Phantom Thread is nominated for Best Picture in the 2018 Oscars. It is Daniel Day Lewis’s final movie, so he says, and it’s a classic Paul Thomas Anderson vehicle in which we follow the life of a wealthy white genius who can’t connect with the people around him. You know, something we can allll totally relate to.

Before I shit on this movie for making women weird props, I can’t not point out how gorgeous this movie looked. I certainly don’t think it deserves to win Best Picture but I definitely understand why it was nominated. From the room designs to the way the camera moved through those rooms, Paul Thomas Anderson was flexing here.

But in 2018, it’s impossible to ignore the way the women were treated in this movie.

The Bechdel Test essentially checks if the women in the movie have interactions that are centered around a man. The rule is, if there are at least two women in it who speak to each other about something other than a man then it passes the test. Phantom Thread is two hours where everything a woman says to another woman is about Daniel Day Lewis’s character Reynolds Woodcock.

Lesley Manville, who played Reynolds’ sister Cyril and Vicky Krieps, who played his love interest Alma, were my favorite part of the movie. They were acting their ass off and straight up bullying DDL in every scene. Rarely do you see actors put Daniel Day Lewis in their back pocket as those two did in this movie. Vicky Krieps was especially compelling. No idea where her accent is from which, ya know, is part of the problem with this movie.

But hey, maybe, and this is going to sound crazy, but MAYBE let’s give these two women motivations other than ‘serving Reynolds Woodcock’. We meet Alma as a waitress and next thing you know, she’s moved in with Reynolds as his new muse. Um, does her family know where she is? Does she even have a family?

Some people have said that this movie is supposed to be a dark comedy and there are certain beats of humor here and there. I watched this movie in a packed theatre full of catty middle-aged women snapping at all the sassiness but after a while, Reynolds being a dick to Alma is no longer cute and becomes frustratingly stagnant and lazy.

Nothing happens in this movie. It’s an episode of The Crown where we are charmed by how British and tidy everything is. Then you actually sit down and try to think about the actual story, you realize that there isn’t one. Or Downton Abbey? What’s the British show that stinks? All of them?

This is Paul Thomas Anderson doing what Darren Aronofsky did with Mother. It’s a movie about how hard it is to be a director and it’s basically the director saying ‘look at my dick’ but this time Paul Thomas Anderson is adding ‘and look how nice and neatly I trim my pubes’.

SEEEE YAAAA, Daniel Day Lewis.

Final Phantom Thread review:

5 Stars.



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Written by TheLesterLee

Created Deadseriousness after being fired from every job I've ever had. One faithful night I drew the conclusion that if I was going to be unemployed, I might as well write articles that will guarantee I am un-hireable going forward. This website is the equivalent to a face tattoo.

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