The revolt that Alma initiates can be read as Anderson’s response to cinematic texts like Rebecca and Vertigo—what might have transpired if Madeleine hadn’t let Scottie use clothing as a weapon to exert control. Phantom Thread is what happens when the mannequin comes to life.
While I tend to chafe at categorizing directors based on gender, each of these films is richer as a result of their lived experience as women, and the particular struggle of searching for agency in a world that limits it.
Throughout, in the manner of The Beaches of Agnès (2008), Varda looks back at her work, attempting to connect the dots both for herself, and for her audience. Knowing she can no longer be with us, the ever benevolent Varda has left us with the next best thing.
In attempting to say something meaningful about race and politics in the city’s biggest borough, Norton has fallen into the same pattern as many real-life real-estate developers and city planners, getting rid of what made the source material so compelling in the first place, and adding his own personally convenient plotlines in the process.
She’s as much the vixen as she was in her early roles, but here she lets down her emotional guard. In this, their first collaboration, Denis and Binoche explore the reality of what it means for an older woman, and an older actress, to be so consistently, unapologetically open.