You probably don’t know the name Vicky Krieps but you will soon.
The 34-year-old actress has starred in over 20 films but few of them have gone on to become what Phantom Thread has: a surprise awards season hit which also just so happens to be Daniel Day-Lewis’s final film.
What does that feeling do to an actor, knowing that the film has not only the eyes of critics and fans on it, but also the eyes of history?
For Vicky, there is no feeling – it’s just another day on the job.
‘I don’t get any particular feeling from [knowing it is his last film],’ she admits.
‘Maybe I get the idea of feeling honoured? Maybe it’s – I’m trying to find the word! – I am honoured but it’s more like an idea because it’s not a feeling, it’s not something you can have a feeling towards, it’s so weird to say someone is ending his work.’
Vicky is the least actor-y actor I have ever met; she says she didn’t know when Oscars nomination day was, she doesn’t consider preparing for her role, she doesn’t believe stepping in and out of character.
She doesn’t even know what she is doing next.
‘In character and out of character… I had never thought of this before,’ she reveals, ‘I decided not to think about it so I don’t know, I just did the movie and I went every morning and I was on set most of the time.’
‘I don’t really believe in definitions of things in general, so for me method is a word trying to explain something, but I think in the end it is acting,’ she adds.
‘You can do it like this or like that but in the end you meet in the same space. So if someone prepares a lot then it’s only to be able to move freely in the second, in that moment, when you have the scene, and I did the same but in a different way.
‘I didn’t prepare – I almost tried to not prepare, to forget everything I know, to move freely in the moment where the scene will be born.’
Phantom Thread was described as a love story by director Paul Thomas Anderson, but it’s no traditional love story.
Dark and twisted, it follows Day-Lewis’ Renyolds Woodcock, an acclaimed fashion designer in 1950s England, who hates the direction fashion is going (‘chic? Oh, don’t you start using that filthy little word’) but is content with his confirmed bachelor status, simply using women for inspiration and companionship.
One day however he meet Alma (Vicky Krieps), a strong-willed European who soon becomes a fixture in his life as his muse and lover – and who disrupts Renyolds’ life completely by love.
The first time Vicky met Daniel – notorious for his method acting – was on the first day of shooting, as they filmed the first scene between Alma and Reynolds.
‘It was, I don’t know, it’s hard for me to relate to it now because at the time I was so in the moment,’ she admits.
‘I knew I had no way of preparing – how can you prepare meeting someone you had not met before? – so I was hoping it would work, and I remember when I saw him the first time… then everything was fine.
‘I saw him and I knew we would do this movie, and it would be fine. Straight away it was all about the work and the story of Reynolds and Alma.’
She lives in Berlin – ‘and when I am in Berlin I try to be away from movie stuff’ – with her partner German actor Jonas Laux, and their daughter Elisa, and has worked with the likes of Joe Wright, Roland Emmerich, and Anton Corbjin.
But this is her first major film that has introduced her to the wider audience of Hollywood in such a leading role.
Not that the idea of that is bothering Vicky.
‘No, it’s just a movie,’ she shrugs.
‘I don’t do my job because of my career, my career exists because of my job. So I just take every movie as a new challenge and I don’t think about the next or the one after.’
It’s an attitude rarely heard in Hollywood and even more rarely believed, but you sort of feel like for Vicky, life isn’t going to change at all.
Phantom Thread is out in UK cinemas on 2 February.
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.