In Phantom Thread the main character cannot be seen, he’s never present, just heard. Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead had a dream, and this is what he dreamed.
Daniel Day-Lewis could only let someone down if that was his given role, and so, in Phantom Thread his character, fashion designer Reynolds Woodcock, is as sharp as any sewing needle. He loses himself completely within the world of fashion (the method actor makes shoes for a living now), much to the frustration of his latest muse Alma, played with an equal sense of sharpness by Vicky Krieps.
The two go back and forth with power plays in passive aggressiveness, a struggle between love and possession, one which wouldn’t be so captivating if it wasn’t for our invisible protagonist and his musical cues.
The sounds of Johnny Greenwood make Phantom Thread feel like a soothing dream, a romantic vision, a ghost story, a comedy for all the family, a thriller with teeth, a painting to study, moments to savour, sadness in the seams.
Like the fashion Woodcock designs, each detail from the score is essential to making it feel whole, and whilst the two actors have the talent to keep on pushing through the twists in the tightly woven fabrics without it, it would also feel like a different end product, not befitting of director Paul Thomas Anderson and the way he strives for perfection in his films. And since There Will Be Blood, perfection comes with a Greenwood 60-piece orchestra in tow.