Phantom thread end explained

phantom thread is a controversial love story with a surprise ending. In his eighth feature film, Paul Thomas Anderson delivers another sophisticated historical drama, once again bringing to life nuanced characters who aren’t exactly good or bad, but are ingeniously flawed to the core. Set in the 1950s, the film follows Reynolds Woodcock, a celebrated tailor who finds in Alma the muse he always dreamed of. The two become romantically involved and complement each other professionally, but Reynolds’ stubbornness in the face of Alma’s nurturing but possessive love soon leads to a clash of obsessions.


Like every Paul Thomas Anderson film, phantom thread was an event. The film marked the retirement of a legend, Daniel Day-Lewis, who bid farewell to the big screen with a memorable performance opposite Vicky Krieps, and their on-screen chemistry as Reynolds and Alma remains one of the greatest cinematic highlights of the 2010s . phantom thread was nominated for six Academy Awards and earned a 91% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes despite its controversial portrayal of a toxic relationship.

Also see: 10 Facts Fans May Not Know About Paul Thomas Anderson’s Movies

Why does Alma poison Reynolds?

Although Reynolds seems to be the focus of the story, phantom thread can be seen almost entirely from Alma’s POV. She is the thread that allows Reynolds to sew seams and hem his life and work. Alma calms Reynolds’ anxiety; she is the pause and breath of relief in his incessant mind, though he will never admit it. But Alma knows and understands him well, which makes her as dangerous as it is helpful.

Alma breaks the 1950s stereotype of the “good wife,” making her Paul Thomas Anderson’s best female character; She cooks Reynolds meticulous meals, meets his needs, and works for him—to a degree. She also knows how to make Reynolds jealous, go out alone and tame her husband or his love. An idea occurs to her after Reynolds makes a fuss over the beautiful dinner she prepared for him, claiming he would not have Alma disturbing his carefully worked out routine. The argument prompts them to poison him with mushrooms and brutally force him out of his routine. He becomes bedridden, insane, and most importantly, lovable.

Reynolds awakens from his stupor, which is consumed by a heartfelt love for Alma and caring, leading him to finally ask her to marry him. The incident makes Alma realize that their relationship can only work in those intervals, in sickness and in health, as they will say at the altar, but quite literally. An interesting look behind the scenes phantom thread is that the film was inspired by Anderson’s wife, Maya Rudolph, who took care of him. By poisoning Reynolds, Alma is playing out her part of her power game, asserting her place in her home and rekindling Reynolds’ love by mothering him.

Did Reynolds know he was poisoned?

Reynolds Woodcock sits in a chair and smiles in Phantom Thread.

There is an ominous tension in the final breakfast scene as Reynolds watches Alma cook him a poisoned omelette. The score and sharp editing show that the film is nearing its climax and anything could happen if Reynolds finds out he’s being poisoned. It is a great surprise as he happily eats and digests the omelet, embracing his illness and Alma’s intentions.

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Paul Thomas Anderson’s revelations about Reynolds’ past and obsessions are reflected in minute details, specifically in the hidden messages Reynold sews into the lining of his clothes. It’s a blessing that Reynolds wasn’t among the roles Daniel Day-Lewis turned down, as it’s a perfect finale; Reynolds is a self-contained man who is so obsessed with his routine that he forces everyone around him into his method. The truth is that his mother’s death broke him completely. Cyril and Alma are the only ones who can see through him.

His obsessive routine and dominant manners hide behind a mask when all he really wants is to be taken care of. Therefore, his feelings for Alma remain, and he readily accepts being poisoned; the disease not only “brings back” his beloved mother, but also forces him to take off his mask. The caring person he is after these episodes may not be the person he really is, but the person he wants to be for those he loves, so he embraces and longs for his illness.

Do Reynolds & Alma have a happy ending?

Alma poisons Reynolds in Phantom Thread

Kiss me, my girl, before I get sicksays Reynolds, delivering one of the best quotes of any Paul Thomas Anderson film, signing a truce in his turbulent relationship with Alma. Until the end phantom thread, Reynolds and Alma seem to have finally hit it off, and both see a clear path of harmony ahead. It is revealed that Alma was with Dr. Robert Hardy has spoken, and she can vividly see Reynolds and her dancing and hugging the next New Year’s Eve, in contrast to the fiasco of the previous one.

While Reynolds and Alma are believed to be happily ever after and continue their evil cycle over and over again, there’s no denying that their relationship is toxic. What makes it so controversial and complex is that Reynolds and Alma might end up seeming like a dysfunctional movie couple, but their love is as toxic as it is honest and surprisingly flawless. Everyone loves in their own way, and such feelings can be a selfish process: Reynolds and Alma seek themselves in each other. In finally acknowledging this, they seem free of judgement, with Cyril watching closely as mediator.

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The meaning of the phantom thread title

Daniel Day Lewis wears glasses in Phantom Thread

phantom thread is a title that’s not easy to dissect if you take its literal meaning, but it makes perfect sense when compared to a popular term used by seamstresses working in the East End of Victorian London. “phantom thread” is used to describe the feeling of going home after exhausting hours of sewing and sewing and being in the process of involuntarily sewing invisible, or rather phantom, threads into the air.

The term makes perfect sense compared to Reynolds’ restlessness, almost as if it were the embodiment of a “phantom thread.” One of Paul Thomas Anderson’s best films, phantom thread offers many hidden details and its title only adds to the experience. The hidden messages Reynolds sews into his clothes appear to be his way of coping with his endless, involuntary sewing, until Alma shows up and puts him out of his misery.

The true meaning of the ending of Phantom Thread

Daniel Day Lewis The Phantom Thread

phantom thread does not hide his connections with the famous theory of the Oedipus complex put forward by Sigmund Freud, as well as other instructive references to psychoanalysis. The film is a perfect example of how much people project themselves onto the people they love and that there is no right way to love. Reynolds and Alma’s relationship is far from a good example, but they do acknowledge the sacrifices their love requires. They embrace their painful cycle and in return find harmony and texture and work as role models for each other, both in life and at work.

More: 10 PTA Characters Who Would Make Good Filmmakers Phantom thread end explained

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