Phantom Thread Blu-ray Review

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Once More With Daniel Day-Lewis & Paul Thomas Anderson

A meticulous, revered dressmaker in 1950s London enters into a peculiar relationship that has unpredictable consequences in Phantom Thread. This carefully mannered drama from filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson delicately turns into a baroque examination on the nature of passion and love. Supposedly the last film by acclaimed actor Daniel Day-Lewis, the master thespian proves one last time why he has consistently been the best actor of the past thirty years.

The incredible starring performance by Daniel Day-Lewis was to be expected, it’s the rest of the cast matching his intensity and craft that is the real surprise in Phantom Thread. The cast includes Lesley Manville, Richard Graham, Vicky Krieps, and Camilla Rutherford. Written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, Boogie Nights), Phantom Thread deconstructs a tortured genius living in his own self-imposed fragility.

Phantom Thread slowly feeds you its intricate characters and their bizarre personal relationships thread by thread. It’s a patient, discerning drama that rewards careful attention by the viewer. This is moody, contemplative storytelling from Paul Thomas Anderson. One of the last directors left in Hollywood with a distinctive voice to his filmmaking, Phantom Thread is subtly different and more nuanced than his previous films. All his usual signature trademarks are still evident beneath the surface, including a wonderfully keen sense of dialogue in pivotal scenes.

These are fascinating characters, driven by impulses uncommonly explored in cinema

Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood) mesmerizes in his role as an elegant couture designer trapped by an obsessive focus on his work and personal idiosyncrasies, blind to love and normal human companionship. Is he playing a mere character or is he slyly mocking his own noted method acting habits? The meta implications are left for the audience to decide but it’s food for thought.

He is joined by Academy Award nominee Lesley Manville (Maleficent, Another Year) and Vicky Krieps (Hanna, The Colony) in this film that was clearly designed as Oscar bait. By that count Phantom Thread was successful, landing six nominations. Composer Jonny Greenwood’s beautiful score won the Oscar for Best Original Music and the movie also took home Best Costume Design prize. This is a tastefully crafted film that exudes class in every phase of its production.

Phantom Thread won’t be the best movie you’ll see this year but every serious movie watcher should catch it. These are fascinating characters, driven by impulses uncommonly explored in cinema. The last hurrah for Daniel Day-Lewis makes for an interesting journey into the depths of a creative person’s driving animus, guided by Paul Thomas Anderson’s measured hand as writer and director.

Video

This Blu-ray version precedes the release of its fellow UHD set, coming in a few weeks. Paul Thomas Anderson has embraced the London period setting with an aesthetic that recalls the glory days of celluloid filmmaking in Phantom Thread.

There is a warmth, texture and richness in Phantom Thread’s cinematography often found lacking in today’s far more sterile digital filmmaking. This is a strongly film-like presentation in 1080P resolution with its visible grain structure and reserved color palette. By the rigorous standards of contrast and pure black levels, Phantom Thread offers serviceable measurements.

The 130-minute main feature is encoded in high-bitrate AVC on a BD-50. Universal has performed a good job transferring Phantom Thread from 35mm film to Blu-ray, avoiding the problems often associated with that process.

The video isn’t tack-sharp but retains a serious amount of visible detail, revealing everything in close-ups. It is presented at its 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Phantom Thread actually got a brief 70mm showing in certain theaters, blowing up the 35mm negative for that run. This is one film shot well enough to deserve a 70mm theatrical run, which should tell you something about its fine cinematography.

Audio

One of the Phantom Thread’s main highlights is its Oscar-winning music from composer Jonny Greenwood. The soft instrumental score is finely layered in this DTS: X soundtrack that will play in 7.1 DTS-HD MA audio if your home theater sound system is capable. As carefully tuned and tailored as any suit by Reynolds Woodcock, this is a perfectly haunting and melodic score some would call elegant.

The dialogue-driven film clearly prioritizes dialogue in the mix. The sound design has ample dynamics with lush fidelity. It lacks the aggressive immersion heard in more action-driven fare but offers a sweet, gentle front soundstage with pinpoint imaging when necessary. This isn’t demo material but decently serves the underlying drama.

Optional English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles play in a white font. Spanish and French Canadian dubs are included in DTS 5.1. An English DVS track in 2.0 is also included.

Extras

Universal has gone fully Movies Anywhere for their digital copies, including an MA digital copy with no sign of an iTunes or UltraViolet digital copy in sight. The DVD and Blu-ray combo set comes in a distinctive clear Blu-ray case. A glossy slipcover is available on first pressings.

For such an accomplished director such as Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis’ last film, these special features offer brief insight behind the scenes. Fans of Jonny Greenwood’s score will hear even more of it in these special features.

Camera Tests (08:42 in HD) – With optional audio commentary by Paul Thomas Anderson, this is the most revealing extra feature. The director explains how he selected which lenses were appropriate for the movie and how their differing properties produced varying results. It’s an insightful featurette that gives an intimate look into his creative process as a director. There is also footage of a scene that didn’t make the film that some will find very surprising.

For The Hungry Boy (04:51 in HD) – A collection of deleted scenes with music by Jonny Greenwood. There’s nothing particularly special about them, they appear to have been wisely cut for time and are mostly redundant.

House of Woodcock Fashion Show (02:47 in HD) – A bizarre featurette narrated by Adam Buxton. It’s as if the small fashion show seen in the film was being televised for an audience.

Behind the Scenes Photographs (11:56 in HD) – Photographs from the film by Michael Bauman with demo versions of Jonny Greenwood’s score.

Universal Trailers (All in HD) – Trailers or teasers for Tully, Darkest Hour, Thoroughbreds, and Molly’s Game play before the main menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The 15 unaltered images below are taken from the Blu-ray. For an additional 12 Phantom Thread uncompressed screenshots, early access to all screens (plus the 12,000+ already in our library), exclusive UHD reviews, and more, support us on Patreon.