Phantom Thread - Worst Movie Ever?

historicstorkhistoricstork Detroitburbs
The last time I heard someone utter "worst movie ever" in a theater was during Martin Scorsese's Silence, a similarly slow-paced study of relationships between a few central characters. Today, that expression was at least held until the credits began to appear.

It struck me as I left the theater that this movie would of course be challenging for people to enjoy. It's almost entirely unrelatable by today's standards. For starters, the focus is on post-war high society in Britain. There is no large-scale injustice or comeuppance, no death or violence. It many ways, the central theme in Phantom Thread is the tragedy of uncertainty. I like to think that the best movies present a question, and reveal its answers methodically. "What do I want?" might be the question posed by this film, and it's presented in a way that appears relevant only to its own characters. That is to say, this may not be a high-impact film. It's more of a character study.

This is not the kind of tale you see often in mid-west American theaters, and it's likely why it drew the reaction I overheard. The central figures are not sympathetic characters. A fashion designer consumed with routine and process. A fawning sweetheart swept up in the gaze of an older, charming but complicated man. A protective sibling and authority figure. A staff of nameless workers and servants expected to sacrifice in silence. Each of the speaking characters is interesting and sometimes perplexing.

By the way, the movie is only interested in the relationships between the central three characters...and a ghost of sorts. And that's fine. The movie is fine. It's full of iconic fashion from the era, perhaps interesting to some viewers. It doesn't oversimplify strained relationships when they become painful to watch. I did in fact enjoy Phantom Thread, but not in a gushing kind of way. The writing and production were immaculate. The dialogue was appropriate for the era and characters, and the acting was excellent as expected. I don't think it's the worst movie ever, though it is a hard movie to rank due to its nature. 

Has anyone else seen this movie? I'm curious to hear other people's thoughts.

Comments

  • Natter CastNatter Cast San Francisco, CA
    I liked it but didn't love it. The acting and directing are amazing, but I had difficulty connecting with the characters. Of course, I felt that way initially about both There Will Be Blood and The Master. I warmed to TWBB and it's now one of my favorite films. The Master still leaves me cold.

    I'll definitely see this again. Just for the performances, it's fantastic. But yeah, story left me cold.
  • I love Paul Thomas Anderson movies and I loved this one too.
  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    'worse movie ever' is silly. i haven't seen it yet but i'm sure is miles away from that statement. aside from Inherent Vice PTA is solid AF.

  • Chinaski said:
    'worse movie ever' is silly. i haven't seen it yet but i'm sure is miles away from that statement. aside from Inherent Vice PTA is solid AF.

    ... its making will be the setting for "The Disaster Artist II".
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    I don't think repeated viewings will improve this movie for me. The 3rd act took a left turn which wasn't fully explored and that's that.
  • amyja89amyja89 Oxford, England
    I loved it.

    Just posted my review with some more detailed thoughts if anyone cares to take a look!

    https://ohthatfilmblog.com/2018/02/07/phantom-thread-2017/
    MichelleDummy
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited February 14
    Oh man.



    A critic whose opinion I trust loved this movie, ranks it just behind Punch Drunk Love as his favorite PTA, with potential to be his favorite. He's seen it 4 times. He mentioned that it has a fairy tale quality to it... which does make me recontextualize some of the abusive behavior. God damn it. I don't know. At the very least, I will have to rewatch it on DVD.

    I doubt it'll be anywhere close to my favorite PTA, but maybe I won't dislike it. And maybe "fairy tale" will seem a better explanation for the 3rd act turn than "complex relationship" (because really, it ain't that complex... just fucked up). 
    Kela15
  • cdrivecdrive Houston, TX
    Okay I was waaay off when I clicked on this thread.


    Michelle
  • edited February 14
    I loved the performances, loved the soundtrack, and only sort of liked the movie as a whole. It was better at being mother! than mother! was, at least.

    I think I could have convinced myself to like this a lot more if I wasn’t just so over this whole “Man gets to be an asshole to everyone around him because he’s brilliant” story. 

    JaimieTakritenbrink
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    I loved the performances, loved the soundtrack, and only sort of liked the movie as a whole. It was better at being mother! than mother! was, at least.

    I think I could have convinced myself to like this a lot more if I wasn’t just so over this whole “Man gets to be an asshole to everyone around him because he’s brilliant” story. 


    That is exactly what I was thinking about it. Re: asshole man. I'm just over asshole man stories. Don't get me wrong, I found them very compelling for a while and they're otherwise legitimate.
    RyanReeseman
  • akritenbrinkakritenbrink Lynnwood, WA (Seattle area)
    JaimieT said:
    I loved the performances, loved the soundtrack, and only sort of liked the movie as a whole. It was better at being mother! than mother! was, at least.

    I think I could have convinced myself to like this a lot more if I wasn’t just so over this whole “Man gets to be an asshole to everyone around him because he’s brilliant” story. 


    That is exactly what I was thinking about it. Re: asshole man. I'm just over asshole man stories. Don't get me wrong, I found them very compelling for a while and they're otherwise legitimate.
    It's definitely bad timing for that type of character at the moment.
    JaimieThistoricstorkMichelle
  • historicstorkhistoricstork Detroitburbs
    I'm going to watch this one again when it comes to on demand. it may reveal more with multiple viewings.
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    JaimieT said:
    I loved the performances, loved the soundtrack, and only sort of liked the movie as a whole. It was better at being mother! than mother! was, at least.

    I think I could have convinced myself to like this a lot more if I wasn’t just so over this whole “Man gets to be an asshole to everyone around him because he’s brilliant” story. 


    That is exactly what I was thinking about it. Re: asshole man. I'm just over asshole man stories. Don't get me wrong, I found them very compelling for a while and they're otherwise legitimate.
    It's definitely bad timing for that type of character at the moment.

    And... I like watching There Will Be Blood. I guess there's also the element of when women have to put up with the male assholery. There Will Be Blood doesn't have that. But I think most times we see male assholery on screen, there are women involved...
  • edited February 16
    Brilliant people are fascinating, there’s a reason why so many movies about brilliant people are so loved and critically acclaimed. I also totally understand that a lot of what makes people brilliant is their unparalleled focus and devotion to their chosen field, and that leaves much less room for normal social interaction.

    I’ve just seen so much of those stories at this point that it’s hard to be wow’d by it after a certain point. 

    Edit: And yeah, these stories aren’t aging well in our current climate, which is just fine by me. 

    Had Phantom Thread come out 10 years ago it would have been lauded as one of the greatest movies of all time. But as it stands in 2018, I’m more interested in movies like Hidden Figures, which while a little too saccharin at times, and nowhere on the same artistic level, just have more heart and history behind them and I’m pretty into that kind of shit right now.
    JaimieT
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