The special partnership enjoyed by director Paul Thomas Anderson and throwback rock band Haim feeds off the ample trading of creative inspiration. Whereas Anderson finds visual impetus in Haim’s unique grooves, the three sisters also draw songwriting ideas from his inimitable approach to storytelling. Case in point: the emergence of “Lost Track”, a plodding, subdued little single that saw its genesis during the production of 2021’s LICORICE PIZZA. Cut to 2022, where the sisters would find themselves at a photo shoot for the cover of W Magazine— and Anderson would find himself enlisted as the photographer (1). As is typical for the nature of their relationship, Anderson and the Haim sisters would take one look at their stage-managed surroundings and turn a mere photo shoot into a full blown, off-the-cuff music video.
This may be surprising, given LOST TRACK’s highly-evident production value— a testament to Anderson’s superlative mastery of his craft and an inherent ingenuity with whatever’s available, essentially, off “the back of the truck”. Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, LOST TRACK unfolds in a mid century banquet hall during what appears to be some sort of high-society ladies function. Infused with pastel colors and bright, flowy dresses, this is clearly not Haim’s scene— a fact made all too clear by Danielle Haim’s uncomfortable performance, delivered while chafing against the starched confines of a dress that’s more prison than garment. Anderson utilizes the ample natural light streaming in through the windows to capture the PHANTOM THREAD-style parade of bright florals. His camera glides smoothly across the parquet dance floor and against seafoam cinder-block walls, restlessly capturing Danielle’s growing claustrophobia until she can no longer deny expressing herself in an incinerating act of destruction that can only be hinted at. That the Ace of Hearts is the visual signifier of her self-immolating individuality speaks to the power of the wild card— ready to upend expectation and convention at a moment’s notice.
This conceit speaks rather nicely to the spark that animates Anderson and Haim’s recurring collaborations: a brilliant ball of passion that threatens to burn it all down. Composition, color, and movement are the tools of visual storytelling, but in Anderson’s hands, they might as well be weapons— wielded with a ferocity that seeks to disarm our expectations and force our engagement on a much more visceral level. Many filmmakers view music videos and other short content as mere doorways into larger-scale work, consumed as they are by an eagerness to leave it all behind once they’ve reached that level. Anderson clearly does not share this view; the short-form realm is both a playground and a proving ground, informing his theatrical efforts with the artistic equivalent of system updates. Without a new feature project immediately on the horizon, Anderson will no doubt continue taking on these inventive and experimental endeavors— where he’ll take us next is anyone’s guess.