By Gloria Janette Pavia
Glum gray skies peered through my barely opened blinds. A familiar face unwelcome- my old pal writers block, she came in and sat on the edge of crisp unwatered plants throughout my apartment. I couldn’t escape the unshakeable feeling of wanting to stay in bed, on the couch, and close to the refrigerator. Writers block screamed at me in the loudest silence. I drowned out her echoes and escaped her clenching fists, picked up my house keys, and I found myself in the home of temporary ease- The Landmark theater on Pico & Westwood.
Sitting in a seat assigned to the fifteen dollars paid at the door, I felt coddled in the safety of faulty memories' arms. I took a chance on the love story of a controlling artist with the qualities of many of my almost lovers. Reynolds Woodcock, a talented clothing designer, meets a woman who challenges his calculations for a successful life. “Phantom Thread,” directed by American filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, gave me back an ounce of hope for an inspired tomorrow.
In one of its first scenes the film set me up for heartbreak at the hands of an overwhelming involvement in the journey of comprehension for such a charming yet prick artist. Alma, a free spirited waitress, reminded me of reality & my current situation. Accepting an invitation for dinner from, “the hungry boy,’ who dressed with effortless style would be the start of a romance that could pull the tears from every cynic witnessing true loves trials. Its a familiar story about two people with very different worlds and how one day those worlds collide. The momentum of their romantic love story jolts you around a not so traditional courting-, “This is your room,” Reynolds leaves his date to sleep across the hallway from him.
The crunching of Alma buttering her toast at Reynolds house makes me giggle but for only one instant. Reynolds quickly interrupts the creases of my mouth smiling to open wide in bewilderment when he barks at her to sit still: “Its like you just rode a horse across the room!” A self important artist like Reynolds has little patience for a lover to come into his life and suddenly change the quietness of perfection. Sought after by the most elite ladies of 1950’s London, Reynolds Woodcock promises to paint them in one of a kind designs which hold time still by the lacing of his creative genius.
The excruciating repressed life which Alma becomes a part of is nothing short of interesting. Holding a book of poisonous Mushrooms I see their love take a turn for the worst. Her most cherished fantasy becomes to kill Reynolds. A little lost in translation, I am suddenly pondering how the film could end and not break my heart. Mr. Woodcock becomes terribly ill. Alma gently caresses his hand in love forever by his side. Handling all pain the way she knows Reynolds would desire- with privacy and mistrusting of all intruders. Alma and Reynolds love each other in a most puzzling sense of the word-love.
Their romance holds the truest way to love another human being for all their humanness. Forgiving and unforgiving every detail, Alma looks past Reynolds Woodcocks capricious fussy demeanor to find a man most needing of her every intention. For richer or poor, better or worse, and until the last scene I fell apart and put myself back together reacting to their story- unforgettable.
For the next time your dear old unwelcome friend, writers block, holds you hostage in her trap, I propose a trip to the Landmark theater and wish your choice to be as detoxifying of your reality as mine with “Phantom Thread.”