12 food films to watch during quarantine

Phantom Thread (2017)

Food plays a starring role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread, Daniel Day Lewis’s swan song in which he plays exacting fashion designer and discerning gourmand Reynolds Woodcock, who likes his mushrooms cooked with no more than “a whisper” of butter.

In one of the opening scenes we get a glimpse of how pernickety Woodcock is via his breakfast order at a small bed & breakfast in the north of England, where he askes attractive waitress Alma for Welsh rarebit with a poached egg, bacon, scones, butter, cream, jam, a pot of Lapsang Souchong and some sausages. Having not written down the order, Woodcock asks Alma to repeat it, which she does to the word.

Food is used in the film as a means through which to manipulate and control. Exasperated by the precision of his desires, Alma cooks Woodcock a wild mushroom omelette at their country house in a bizarre act of consensual poisoning, with Reynolds seeking to surrender control so that he can be taken care of by Alma. “I want you lying on your back, helpless, sweet, open only to me,” Alma whispers as he takes his final bite.

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