PHANTOM THREAD ****
Any film with the inimitable Daniel Day-Lewis should not be missed. Remember MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDERETTE, MY LEFT FOOT, THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, LINCOLN? This versatile actor has won three Oscars and may win his fourth with this film by Paul Thomas Anderson, with whom he also collaborated in THERE WILL BE BLOOD (his third Oscar), which was the complete opposite of this elegant, refined story of a renowned fashion designer in 1950s London.
The exacting designer and his sister lead a genteel, controlled life of hard work surrounded by luxury, with much of London high society at their beck and call. He is a complete master in his field and his life, until he falls for a young, strong-headed girl working as a waitress at a seaside resort. The film is both an aesthetic and a psychological study of the balance of power in a relationship as this self-assured man becomes entangled in a web of desire and need. The photography, sets and music (by Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead) are sublime, creating a whole mood of their own, enhancing the excellent ensemble acting.
Day-Lewis has once again immersed himself fully in his role, becoming this complex artist who ends up being a mere human after all. It is a master work, both from him and Anderson. I would give him the Oscar, for his role is far more delicate and fragile than the tour-de-force of Gary Oldman’s Churchill in DARKEST HOUR. But it will probably be Oldman…
ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD ***
Despite the drastic, costly, media-hyped last minute change of the leading man – portraying billionaire John Paul Getty – in Ridley Scott’s latest film, this story about the infamous kidnapping of Getty’s grandson comes out strong and gripping. It achieves an excellent balance between the private characters and the media circus surrounding them, while delving into Getty’s psyche, his moods and intentions.
The switch from Kevin Spacey (due to some sexual allegations against him) to Christopher Plummer ended up being an excellent artistic choice, since Spacey was too young for the role of the elder Getty and needed prosthetic makeup to age him, and the veteran Plummer (THE SOUND OF MUSIC, and Tolstoy in THE LAST STATION) has so brilliantly grasped Getty’s character that he’s been given another Oscar nomination for this role.
The prolific Scott – THELMA AND LOUISE, GLADIATOR, A GOOD YEAR, amongst others – has managed here to humanize the hermetic billionaire, while also covering the tense scenes of poor Getty Jr. in lengthy captivity, since his grandfather refused to pay his ransom.
There is also his desperate mother, played by Michelle Williams, and a special assistant to Getty, played by a convincing Mark Wahlberg, who try to come up with a plan to save the young boy. Though the whole situation seems morally incomprehensible, the film is tightly-tuned to both inform and entertain. That is Ridley Scott for you…
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.