Pattinson and Dafoe are Bizarre and Brilliant in The Lighthouse
Director Robert Eggers is one of my favorite type of filmmakers. Why? He takes you outside the box and outside yourself to a world you can only imagine inhabiting with a visceral, hypnotism that could only exist within The Lighthouse. Having watched his film The Witch, Eggers is a master of giving audiences a buffet of imagery and psychological warfare to chew on.
Charged with tending to a lighthouse for four weeks, Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) spends his days with backbreaking chores, while during the nights, his elder cohort Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) is barking orders in prose to keep the lighthouse operating. Growing weary of menial tasks, Ephraim’s curiosity regarding Thomas’ hours alone with the big light seemingly gets the best of him. Fatigue and envy encourage Ephraim’s increasing paranoia about the loitering seagulls, to the point where he’s visited by strange visions of his imagination.
Shot on 35mm in shockingly gorgeous black-and-white by Cinematographer Jarin Blaschke), this psychological thriller follows the slow descent into madness of two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) on a remote New England island at the turn of the 19th century. The film’s crude humor, hypnotic sounds, and spectral imagery lure us in, but Pattinson and Dafoe holding our attention with truly unhinged performances. Pattinson is spellbinding with his bushy beard, piercing eyes, and salty accent. Dafoe is captivatingly genius while he goads his young mate into revealing his shadowy past creating a masterclass of epic proportions. Those moments of them signing bizarre sailor songs are suspenseful comedy at its best, yet leave you wondering who will or won’t survive the night.
I particularly loved how Eggers’ use of water imagery as a third characters serves the intensity of the plot creating yet another vehicle for the audience to become even more invested. It’s a maritime nightmarish horror story that creates many thematic, symbolic images proving that sanity is truly just a state of mind. It’s bloody disgusting, quirky, sexually explicit and off the cuff in the best way possible. The Lighthouse is not like any other film you will see in 2019, but well worth the ride. Produced by A24, sail into a theatre now to have you mind fully blown!