Cert 15 130mins Stars 5
Prepare to be tied up in knots by the exquisite and twisted pleasures of this remarkable period melodrama.
Incurable bachelor Reynolds Woodcock is a 1950’s fashion designer to the super wealthy, who begins a poisonously passionate relationship with his latest young muse, Alma.
Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps are mesmerising, and their on-screen romance is refereed with arch imperiousness by Lesley Manville as Reynolds’ spinster sister.
She’s deservedly Oscar nominated alongside Day-Lewis, but it’s a staggeringly unfair oversight the equally impressive Krieps hasn’t been recognised by the Academy.
The timing of Day-Lewis’ run to another possible Oscar for best actor, is as immaculate and precise as the fabulous dresses created by his character. It would be a record-breaking fourth victory.
A dapper and cruel monster of seductive grace and charm, Reynolds is capable of making the audience leap from their seats when he barks.
It’s a voice with lisping echoes of James Mason, the Brit actor who played the villain in Hitchcock’s North By North West and a predatory paedophile in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita. Directors of huge influence here.
Reflecting Day-Lewis’ cadaverous appearance, there is no fat on this lean and sinuous affair which is far removed from cuddly Sunday night TV drama. It’s a shocking and intense tale of obsession, with alarming moments of humour.
Paul Thomas Anderson steered Day-Lewis to Oscar success in 2007’s oil epic, There Will Be Blood. He’s nominated for best director and picture, among six in total for his film.
Moving from the chilly north Yorkshire moors to the hard London interiors, Anderson fashions a world of stylish fetish and embroiders it in the manner of Alfred Hitchcock.
This disguises it’s macabre underpinning which is revealed with an outrageous final flourish.
I take Day-Lewis’ announcement of retirement with a large dose of salt, and as with all great divas he’s left me clamouring for more.