The film is billed as a 'crime/drama', and that's a bit misleading.
Behold the indelible Reynolds Woodcock, of the House of Woodcock. He is a dress designing genius. He is wealthy, prominent, poised, cultured, polite, mild mannered, and impeccably dressed.
Reynolds spends his days with a very specific routine in his enormous mansion that he shares with his spinster sister, Cyril.
Similar to an autistic child, Reynolds despises being lead into anything new or different. He would be classified today as a true workaholic, performing and pouring untold hours into his creations with tremendous reward. Few can afford his time. Only the richest of socialites and even the Queen of a foreign country will be allowed his attention.
Alma is a bit of an uncultured hick by Reynolds standards, yet captures his heart anyway. She is also at least 25 years his junior.
After moving in, Alma respects and conforms to the ways of the almost royal unspoken laws of conduct. But after a while, bit by bit, her country girl personality and spontaneous nature rises to the surface. In Reynold's mind, she commits to unspeakable crimes as in buttering and loudly chomping on her breakfast toast, slurping from bowls, and any number of innocent slip-ups that Reynolds firmly and sometimes cruelly rejects.
Caught in the middle is Cyril, who does show compassion for Alma, but will not move more than a couple of inches in crossing her brother. Cyril understandably will not jeopardize her position in the hierarchy of all things Woodcock. Not a chance. She knows when to curtly cut off Alma, and Alma is smart enough to obey.
And here is presented the great and timeless struggle of a woman bound and determined to influence her man, even though he is twice her age, has already been established and his ways set in stone for decades.
While the couple grow contemptuous of each other, they never, NEVER break dishes or shout like the common folk do. That would be inexcusable. Instead, Reynolds defends his ways with soft-spoken but cold logic, while Alma consciously behaves in subtle ways to break her husband's attention.
In one scene, Alma pours water into a glass painfully slow from high in the air at the dinner table, knowing the noise is driving poor Reynolds out of his skull.
Though beautifully made, 'Phantom' moves at a deliberate crawl. I was invested enough to see it to the end, but my patience began to crack at the one hour mark. I couldn't help but check my watch here and there after that.
There are many dark and deeply sinister turns this story could have taken, but it does not. If it had, it would have balanced the rigid and stoic tone to the film and made it truly memorable.
The last 15 minutes of the film is just a very slow fade into an ending that left me flat and unsatisfied.
At the end of the day, 'Phantom' just doesn't deliver.
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