I have never been so convinced that reviewers have missed the central theme of a film than in the case of “Phantom Thread,” the new film by Paul Thomas Anderson starring Daniel Day-Lewis. It is not about a man driven to aesthetic perfection more than money and power, whatever A.O. Scott seems to think. Nor is it, as he puts it, “The wrenching tale of a woman’s love for a man and a man’s love for his work.” Nor is it about breakfast, as Anthony Lane suggests in The New Yorker, although that is a more interesting possibility, and it is true that breakfast is an important setting for the major moments in the film. Like Lane, I thought of Hitchcock in watching the film, and specifically of “Rebecca,” but the film is in the end, more of a love story, than a horror story, which is perhaps its central surprise.
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