With an absolutely riveting performance, Daniel Day-Lewis dominates this film. He plays Reynolds Woodcock, a fashion designer in 1950s London. Reynolds has a number of romantic attachments, all supervised by his sister, Cyril (Lesley Manville), who looks after her brother’s every need including getting rid of the girls he has grown tired of.
However, when Reynolds meets Alma (Vicky Krieps), who is working as a waitress in a small hotel, he not only falls in love with her but succumbs to her administrations. Alma becomes Reynolds’ muse and she falls for him. Realising that he will only be truly hers if he becomes weak, she manages to make him ill to ensure she has him in her power.
Paul Thomas Anderson directs sharply with an accurate eye for the nuances of each character. He uses a super camera crew who shoot scenes to give the maximum impact. The music, too, is carefully chosen and is made up of various combinations – from just a piano to full orchestra and all most effective, adding to the emotional impact of the story.
As far as the acting goes: it is not just a one-man job. Of course, Day-Lewis is just right in the part – as he is in virtually all the films he is in – but Vicky Krieps, who is not your usual beauty, exudes a quiet yet determined persona and she has just the right mixture of innocence and strength. While Lesly Manville, who has just won the London Critics Circle Best Supporting Actress award, manages to alter her actual features to become the guardian of her brother.
We know that Day Lewis undertakes a lot of pre-film research, but he has an extra special quality which allows him to inhabit his characters and here he becomes the selfish but very talented famous dress designer. Do see this film and watch out for it receiving more gongs.