Well, only five weeks into the year with just nine films seen and I can already declare that in my opinion this will be the film of 2018 - and possibly even the decade! I returned home one hour ago after an hour's bus journey, and I haven't come down yet.
Self-proclaimed by Daniel Day-Lewis as being his filmic swansong appearance, if it's true then he's going out on a high which simply could not be any higher. He has never been better - and considering every single role he's taken where he's never been even a shade less than breathtakingly impressive, here he reaches the summit.
No less deserving of praise is the Luxembourgoise actress, Vicky Krieps, she and Day-Lewis making a riveting companionship in acting, augmented by the august presence of Lesley Manville. These three are the only significant characters of this totally absorbing film.
American director Paul Thomas Anderson has made some extraordinarily memorable films (incl. 'There Will Be Blood', also with Day Lewis - and 'Magnolia' , though I do wish I'd had the chance to see his 'Punch Drunk Love') - and here once again his characteristic spell works wonders.
London 1950s, it's in the world of haute couture, where slightly ageing bachelor, Day-Lewis, runs a much-in-demand dressmaking business for 'society ladies', assisted by his sister (Manville). In a 'normal', everyday restaurant he's served by a waitress (Krieps) to whom he takes a fancy, and after a little gentle verbal teasing by him this is reciprocated. They quickly become friends and he takes her back to his large residence/workshop, where he has about ten experienced, mature women who come in daily for dressmaking work, his sister presiding over everything yet ever deferring to his will and decisions. The arrival of the new young woman raises a few eyebrows but nothing is said. Meantime, the Day-Lewis character is all quiet gentleness exuding affability - but could that be the cover for something rather like a tightly coiled spring...........?
The story carries on from there, basically following the relationship between the two central individuals. Anyone familiar with Daphne du Maurier's excellent novel 'Rebecca' (one of my all-time favourite books) will pick up on the strong resonances between that work and this film - but situation-wise rather than denouement.
It's hard to say more without giving away more than I'd wish to. It's far better not knowing which way the compelling story's going to turn. I'll only say that the film is close to being flawless, though my sole quibble is that right at the end something happens, the reaction to which by one of the three principals is just a fraction less convincing in the light of what we know about that person's character through what's gone before. But it didn't affect my overall appreciation one jot.
Mention must also be made of the outstanding soundtrack. In addition to original music written by Jonny Greenwood there are excerpts of both jazz and classical (mostly chamber) music, all expertly chosen without being distracting. I loved it all, nothing being jarringly out of place.
Oh yes, and there's a high quality script too.
The film may not be to everybody's tastes, but there's no doubt that it hit the spot for me. If you suspect it just might be the kind of film you'd like, I do urge you to go, please!...............8.5.
7 hours ago