Published On: Sun, Mar 11th, 2018

“The hidden thread”: obsession and loss in the film plot of Paul Thomas Anderson

Paul Thomas Anderson’s cinema looks in the mirror through Reynolds Woodcock’s sartorial research, we could say, sewn on (d) to the actor’s maniacal attitude of his model actor, Daniel Day-Lewis – The deepening

Calligraphic trace, creative design, hidden plot, subtle and pungent motion of desire, poised between passion and obsession: search for perfection, apotropaic rite and seduction, Paul Thomas Anderson’s cinema looks in the mirror through Reynolds Woodcock sartorial researches , we could say, sewn on (d) the actorial maniacality of his model actor, Daniel Day-Lewis , already on the avenue of sunset (the gray hair, the announcement of the withdrawal) yet elegantly a prisoner of an eternal age of innocence, fallen in the role of an obsessive dandy, hungry for precision and in search of his Alma (Vicky Krieps, a Julianne Moore reincarnated in the ambiguous gaze of the young Luxembourg actress).

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And it is not easy to grasp the hidden thread that links the multifaceted cinematographic path of this author : from Boogie Nights to Magnolia , from The Master to the Oilman , passing through Pynchon, seems to express, rather than a formal defect , a protean virtue, each time choosing the precise style that asks him his chosen subject. Delicate is to lift the secret folds (lapels, linings, transparencies) under the surface texture of this last spectral creation, laid and elusive, strewn with clues, filigree and shadow areas, and inaugurated by a declaration of poetics and romance as absolute as ferocious, enclosed in the words of its protagonist (which sounds a bit like the sulfur trade of the Alma / soul of a Faustian pact): making a dream live requires complete dedication, a disposition – which requires fabric – to give each piece of self.

The habit is a monastic life. Almost ascetic. It is habit, repetition, defense mechanism (domination of silence), display of strength, path of ascension, infusion of courage and exercise of measurement (and measures, as in the numerical reduction that Woodcock performs on the physicality of the beloved), cages the Desiring body in its den, protects it, tames it and gags it with rituals (breakfasts and collections) that contain it and remodel it, operating a censorship of the obscene, redefining its contours, guarding its secret (behind infinite closed doors).Yet under the dress (yes) feels, and the coverage is both unveiling, expression, exposure, fashion show and exhaustion, disguise and therefore promise of transformation, stripping and staging, playing potentially infinite roles on the stage of the world , up to the grotesque overturning, which here results in an unexpected dialectic between servant and master, waitress and client, nurse and patient, model and creator. Wrapped in costume, the restless body agitates, suffocates, makes noise, yearns, is hungry, moved by carnival impulses to escape, intoxicated reacts, rejects and expels, always pushed to be reborn from his remains, to resist any attempt at rouge.

Paul Thomas Anderson drops this overturned melodrama (and they lived unhappy and happy) in the Fifties with so many Hitchcockian suspects (from the specter of poisoning to the maternal ghost in wedding dress, from the theories of stairs to racing in cars for miles of celluloid), telling in an original and intense way frankesteiniano and maniacal to tear apart and reassemble creative perfectionism and building a metacinematographic reflection not too masked, because the studio director closely resembles – enterprise, art and craftsmanship that designs, selects, cuts and sews his vision on the living body – at the stylist’s atelier. As if the hidden threadit was also a dry and refined counterpart to the overwhelming revelation of the intimate perversion of the process of male creation made, on a completely different register but with as much ambition, by a director who was also talented and singular as Darren Aronofsky in Mother! (although Jennifer Lawrence, the protagonist of that imaginary implosion, claims to have gone out 3 minutes after the start, disturbed by Anderson’s film).

And here too we ask ourselves about a multifaceted feminine declined in the form of a mother, sister, bride and model, as if the woman lived many times ( see Gone girl by David Fincher for a film compendium of the discourse on women of the author ofRebecca – The first wife ). So the thin ghost line told is also made up of all those invisible but decisive bonds that providentially keep us together yet fatally trap us, support us and make us stumble, particularly in the relationships between the sexes: umbilical cords and scissio nodes, wires of the speech and gaze, rope pulls, spider webs and hangman’s rope. As if laces and strings, ties and corsets, hems and hair made up the fil rouge (that of the lips cleaned up by the lipstick, clamped around a threatening pin) of an esoteric and symbolic writing capable of telling the paradoxical dynamics of relationships, and that intricate, mad and mysterious tangle, around which much has been embroidered without ever fully unraveling , called love.


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