Film Friday: Phantom Thread

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Reynolds Woodcock is a brilliant dressmaker, and a deeply insecure man. He cannot work properly if anything disrupts his neatly ordered world, and his female friend, housemate and PA Cyril ensures that everything is in its rightful place. Then Reynolds meets Alma, falls for her and invites her to live with him, as a kind of muse. For Reynolds, Alma has the perfect figure. But she is strong-willed too, with her own ideas, and when Alma says she does not like one of his dresses, Reynolds cannot deal with that.

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When Alma tells Reynolds to stop pretending he is strong he refutes her comment and tells her that he is indeed strong. But she knows different. Reynolds may be a genius when it comes to designing dresses, but in so many other ways he has never really grown up. When Alma brings him tea unexpectedly one day it throws him.

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Jesus ventured into the wilderness for 40 days, as described in Matthew 4 verses 1-11, and for him that was a kind of boot camp. He faced temptation, put his roots down deep into his heavenly Father, and prepared to leave behind his old job and begin his new ministry.  Before entering the wilderness he heard from his heavenly Father. He was deeply loved by God. And that gave him his identity, his security. His work would not be a means for earning respect, or making his mark, or being appreciated. He would not chase fame or celebrity or success. He was secure in his Father’s love. He was the total opposite of designer Reynolds. At one point in Phantom Thread, when Reynolds discovers that one of his regular customers has gone elsewhere for dresses, he complains bitterly to Cyril that he feels unappreciated, and cannot work properly. Jesus was so different. I am sometimes easily affronted if things don’t go my way. I hope I get lots of likes on Facebook and responses on Twitter. It’s so easy to be a little like Reynolds and chase popularity and success. And to demand your own way. Life would be so much easier if everyone did what I want! Why isn’t the world at my beck and call!!? The devil offered Jesus the world in the wilderness, and Jesus refused. He didn’t need the world’s adulation, he already had his Father’s pleasure. This gave him security, peace and strength.

And he would need these things, for the next three years would be very rocky indeed. Culminating in the tsunami of Easter. Wrongful arrest, punishment, ridicule and execution. Had there been another way to rescue the universe Jesus would have chosen it. But there was not, so Jesus kept on course. For me. And for you. Sailing across that sea of dread and death, and even losing touch with his Father, in whom he found his deep strength and security, in order to open the door for you and I to begin again. Day after day after day. Thank you Jesus.

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