Stranded on a remote island, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe struggle for power in "The Lighthouse" (R), a new film from Robert Eggers.
The story is set in the 1890s and takes place on an island with an old lighthouse. Thomas (Dafoe), the one-legged keeper of the lighthouse, hires Ephraim (Pattinson) for what is supposed to be a period of four weeks. However, a nasty storm hits, and the two are stranded. As the storm rages on and the days drudge by, Thomas and Ephraim are consumed by alcohol, lies, power and madness.
Pattinson and Dafoe alone are worth every cent of the ticket price. Both performances are Oscar-worthy. Dafoe’s character has the most wonderful old-timey sailor accent and it’s obvious he’s having a blast playing this crazed, old keeper.
However, Pattinson is the standout. The range he displays in the film is astounding. His character starts out as a quiet guy, but as the film goes on, he slowly starts to unhinge. He proves once again that it is a crime to mention his name in the same sentence as “Twilight.” It’s a shame Pattinson doesn’t get the respect he deserves.
Eggers also plays a large role in this film’s success. He proves that his incredible debut film “The Witch” was not a fluke. His direction is nearly flawless. He uses long takes and gives his actors room to play. Many frames look almost like paintings.
Watching this film is a wholly unique experience. While it’s mainly a drama focused on Dafoe and Pattinson, there are a wide variety of genres blended in, including thriller and horror. While not particularly scary in the traditional sense, there are many haunting images that remain with the audience long after the credits roll. The film also conjures some comparisons to horror classics such as “The Shining” as both feature characters descending into madness in remote locations.
Eggers also adds in a touch of fantasy and myth with creatures such as mermaids and tentacle monsters. If any of this sounds a little too pretentious and artsy, don’t worry. The film could also be classified as a dark comedy. There are even a couple fart jokes sprinkled in.
However, shot in black and white and presented in a 1.19:1 aspect ratio (basically a square), “The Lighthouse” is certainly not a movie for everyone. While these elements add to the film, they are bound to turn off some viewers. The film also has a very slow pace, especially in the first act. It really picks up once the characters start to go crazy, but getting there may require some patience.
Another possible turnoff is the film’s ambiguous nature. Much of the movie is up for interpretation The ending leaves many questions unanswered. Some people will love this and others will be frustrated by it.
Despite these negatives, “The Lighthouse” is definitely worth a watch. It just can’t be said enough how truly great Pattinson and Defoe are. The ambiguity ensures it will be discussed for years to come. “The Lighthouse” has all the elements of a future cult classic.
The Lighthouse – 4/5