Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Starring: Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville and Daniel Day-Lewis
I simply was never invested until the very end, and then was thoroughly confused as well as creeped out.
Daniel Day-Lewis announced that this will be his final film and I now want to start a petition to change his mind. I already did before seeing this film. He is an amazing actor and one of my favorites. But after seeing this mess of boredom I really want him to go out with something far better. Leave us wanting more DDL, this movie I could have used less of.
1950’s England and DDL plays Reynolds Woodcock, a top of the line dress designer. Anybody who’s anybody wants to wear a Woodcock dress. He is a man devoted not only to his craft but to who he is and what his life is about. A man consumed in the essences of his routine and perfection throughout his day, anything else is a annoying distraction. He regards women as simple muses for his work, never to be bothered by marriage or relationships. His sister, Cyril, is his wing and personal assistant. Played wonderfully by Lesley Mansville, she is the only one who can talk directly to him. Woodcocks routine needs updating when his current muse and frequent dress model shows signs of aging. The timing couldn’t be better as he meets a young waitress named Alma whom he becomes immediately smitten with. Played by Vicky Krieps, Alma proves to be more than just another conquest for Woodcock. She begins to effect his life and routine daily. Normally Woodcock would dismiss this new young model but for some reason he keeps her around. His reserved nature and insistent focus on nothing but his work never allows his feelings to show through. If anything he reveals he has feelings for her when he gets easily annoyed and angry at her and the world. But Alma never gives up.
I know that to this point it feels like a pretty standard tale of love breaking through hardened hearts and allowing two people to find each other. But at no point throughout the movie does it feel that this is the direction. Woodcock treats Alma like absolute garbage throughout the film. The only time she shows emotion is when other women are around him and then it’s nothing more than jealousy and insecurity. The entire movie it seems that we are just waiting for Woodcock to kick her out and move on. Even during Alma’s misguided attempts to show feelings for Woodcock by cooking dinner for him, he does nothing but show a lack of interest and rudeness to her.
The movie then gets weird. To gain his attention, I mean truly make herself stand out in his eyes, Alma poisons him. Yep, she pushes him to the brink of death because somehow this will make him see how much he needs her. The crazy part is, it works!
To keep going would spoil the rest of the film. Do they get together? Does she kill him to prove he belonged to only her? Or does it get even weirder from there? Sadly, these are questions that get answered in this odd twist of a storyline.
I think the issue is how difficult it was to become invested in either character. So when they finally do show feelings and emotions it’s almost out of place. The pacing of the film is a very slow burn. I never “checked my watch” but certainly was ready for the story to be over-with after about the first hour.
The performances are well done. Manville and Krieps are both good, especially Manville. DDL is good as he always is but I think the Oscar nomination was mostly because this is his final performance…allegedly.
Wait for streaming for this movie. Do watch it so you can complete seeing all of DDLs films. You’ll at least be intrigued as to what just happened by the end, as well as the subtle but solid acting.
5.5 out of 10