I did not know what to expect going into this movie; we chose it because it has been nominated for Best Picture, and we always like to see as many of the contenders as possible. What I found was an intriguing love story, told beautifully with incredible acting, on gorgeous sets, with an amazing wardrobe. Of course that last part is to be expected, since the story is about Reynolds Woodcock - a world-renowned fashion designer in the 1950's, and his young lover Alma.
The movie was slow paced, which normally irritates me in a movie, but I actually kind of loved it in this one. There were many shots that were simply establishing shots - a close up view of a needle sewing thread, tea being poured, fabric being cut, measurements taken, butter sizzling in a pan. I felt these shots gave the movie an amazing ambiance, they helped me to feel like I was truly there in the dress shop, at the breakfast table, or at a fitting. At times they were used to build tension as the characters began to be in conflict with each other in surprising ways.
I loved the depth of the characters shown throughout the movie. Reynolds is a tightly wound man with obsessions that lead him to control those around him. Alma is a free spirited young woman who seems naive at first, then either grows or reveals her true self as the movie continues. Their relationship ebbs and flows as first one holds more power, then the other. It is fascinating to watch and study each character and their effects on the other.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and I can see why it has been nominated for Best Picture. I think most people would enjoy it, especially if you go into it expecting a character study with beautiful cinematography that might be a bit slow at times, but uses that slowness to great effect. And really, if nothing else, go to see and envy the fabulous dresses and gorgeous jewelry.