Writer/director Robert Eggers burst on to the cinematic scene in 2015 with his haunting debut, The Witch, a movie many consider to be one of the finest horror movies of the decade. It is one of the strongest debuts of the decade and Eggers immediately established a style of writing and directing that was different and new, which made Eggers one of the most exciting new voices in the game and a director that everyone was eagerly awaiting to see what he would do next.
The Lighthouse proves that Eggers is for real. It is a movie that shows Eggers command of visual storytelling while also showing his love and appreciation for period pieces and ensuring that the dialect, production design, and costumes are all perfect for the period. But what Eggers has done with The Lighthouse is make a Rorschach test of a film. One that will mean something different to you depending on your personal read.
After I got out of my screening for The Lighthouse, I was in awe of what I just witnessed. The film looks at two lighthouse keepers (Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe) on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s. The events that take place on this island are something to behold, as they include a screeching seagull, a mermaid Pattinson’s Ephraim Winslow continuously dreams about, a lot of booze, and a lighthouse that Dafoe’s Thomas Wake loves watching overnight. Getting into everything that happens while these two lighthouse keepers would ruin the experience of the film. This is a truly hypnotic movie that hooks you from frame one.
Not every movie is straight forward in its themes and the story it is trying to tell. Some movies are so vague in what their themes are that it gets to the point of annoyance. The Lighthouse is definitely a movie about something, but it’s a matter of how you read the film that will determine how you feel about the film. I’ve looked at reviews from some of our finest film critics on this movie to see what their takes were and some of them had the same take as mine, some had different ones. The vagueness of The Lighthouse is one of the great things about it
What I took from the film is that it’s a movie about one man’s decent into madness and about the fall of a relationship. This is a movie where two people meet and are cordial with one another but then the relationship begins to crumble as they spend more time together and bigger forces come into play. Is it a romantic relationship? Not necessarily. It could be the relationship between roommates or a married couple, but it’s fascinating to watch Ephraim and Thomas’ relationship grow and and crumble before our eyes.
This is also a look at Ephraim slowly losing mind on the isolated island. Ephraim is a mysterious man looking to start new, but the island gets to him. The combination of a large storm brewing, an obnoxious seagull, and Thomas’ unpleasant habits, such as bossing him around, the way he eats, his laugh, and his farts, his goddamned farts. A lot of the credit here goes to Pattinson and Dafoe, who give two incredible performances. Both men give committed performances here, proving why they are two of the best actors working today. Dafoe is a true pro and this seemed like a role only he could have played and he nails it. Pattinson utilizes his expressive face and eyes to convey Ephraim’s madness. They both nail the accents and speaking patterns of the period and read Egger’s dialog brilliantly. Some of the dialog seems muttered and hard to understand, but that just adds to the authenticity of the movie.
The Lighthouse is a movie I want to see again and need to see again. This is a movie that will mean something different each time you watch it. But each time you watch it, you will be in awe of the performances from Pattinson and Dafoe and Eggers expert filmmaking.
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