He set his latest film in post-war London in the 1950s and follows Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), who with his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) produces renowned dresses for elite clientele. Reynolds is a sworn bachelor – women go through his life, eventually let him stay to give him company and inspiration, but he quickly gets bored. The plot arises when he meets Alma (Vicky Krieps) on vacation, a young, somewhat stubborn and stubborn waitress, who soon becomes his muse and mistress. However, Reynolds realizes that his carefully planned life, in the company of Alma, is slowly starting to crack at the seams…
Reynolds is a specific man, arrogant and egocentric, who spends most of the day with himself. Rare opportunities for company, such as breakfast, he uses to sketch dresses, while he demands complete silence from his family. His house is also a workshop, so many seamstresses come to work every day. Reynolds greets them politely and remembers their names, but it is obvious that they serve him exclusively to fulfill visions, without unnecessary intimacy. Two scenes are enough to understand the character of Reynolds: the very introduction of the film in which he adjusts in great detail and carefully and the first scene of breakfast, when he criticizes a girl for not remembering his earlier warning about croissants, which probably did not happen (except , perhaps, in his head).
The first meeting of lovers in this atypical romantic drama goes in a predictable course – a gentleman from the city skillfully won the affection of a waitress. However, we soon realize that Alma’s smiling face hides courage and enterprise. After the invitation to dinner, she hands out a note to Reynolds, which tells us two things, and that is that she was expecting an offer and that she was eventually ready to take the first step in order to meet her expectations. The whole scenario is full of similar Alma’s assumptions, her precise claims, but also subtle diversions in her or mutual favor.
Although at first glance dominant, accustomed to indulgence and helpfulness, we realize that Reynolds possesses a strong Oedipus complex and is still very attached to his late mother. It is paradoxical that Alma says something so intimate, and soon after that she serves him as a living doll to which she takes all possible measures on her body and comments on her appearance, until Alma reacts. Anderson leaves us to initially conclude that Reynolds is a macho man, while Alma is a blind fan because of his reputation or appearance, but we soon discover that behind a flirtatious and humble person hides a woman who knows what she wants and does not dare to get it.
The psychological conflict between the two is one of the main themes of the script. Although it seems that Alma will experience the fate of the girl from the beginning of the film, it is obvious that she has other plans. The change in the dynamics of this twisted romance makes the heroes of the story become totally different from what we expected. As the script progresses, we learn more and more about these characters, again surprised by their depth, all the way to the final, more or less simple solution for concluding their story.
As expected, every visual detail of this film has been brought to perfection. Minimalist scenery that leaves a lot of space with exposed dresses (the only things worth admiring, if you ask the homeowner), gorgeous costumes, carefully chosen musical tones by Johnny Greenwood and the author’s innate feeling to create a specific atmosphere and move us to the time when the action takes place – we simply have the impression to watch a classic film from the fifties. The cast was reduced to three names, because all the other characters are either passing or extras. For a long time now, every performance of Daniel Day-Lewis has been classified as a masterpiece, and I must admit that the Luxembourg actress Vicky Cripps was more than a worthy acting partner.