The Lighthouse Movie Review

The Lighthouse Movie Review

Gather ‘round ye lads and lasses, it's time to tell the tale of a stark descent into madness in a seaside lighthouse in 1890s New England. Robert Eggers' "The Lighthouse" won't be for the faint of heart - or those who crave a tidy narrative - but his hallucinatory fever-dream is indeed an experience at the movies.

The movie feels a bit like a play, with its limited setting and only two speaking parts. Robert Pattinson ("High Life") plays Winslow, a lighthouse keeper who is assigned to work daily under the supervision of Thomas (Willem Dafoe, "Aquaman"). Winslow and Thomas couldn't be any different; Winslow is quiet and reserved, often talking in one-word mumbles. Thomas is a bit more brash, speaking loudly and fervently in old-timey English. The two don't get along and most of their interactions consist of Thomas barking demands and Winslow hesitantly abiding.

Then things get weird. Very weird. Sometimes a bit too weird. That's the entrancing majesty of "The Lighthouse," a movie you should know very little or nothing about going in. If it seems like two people going mad in a lighthouse sounds harmless enough, Eggers constantly throws new wrenches in the film and ups the weirdness as the movie goes along.

It's easy to dismiss "The Lighthouse" as a style-over-substance exercise, but every aesthetic and technical choice Eggers makes suits the film's story. The movie was shot on film and the muddy, grainy, black-and-white cinematography lends itself to telling the 1800s-set story. Eggers shot the film in a boxy aspect ratio, which makes the images appear condensed on screen. The walls are closing in on the characters as the isolation starts to affect their stability, and the presentation perfectly mirrors their psyche.

Enough can't be said about Pattinson's journey as an actor in a post- "Twilight" world because none of his choices ever feel like a desperate attempt to shed a teen heartthrob persona. He's an actor who has accumulated wealth and status because of a role in a successful franchise and has the freedom to take on any parts he chooses. He might be stepping back into blockbuster territory as the new Batman, but Pattinson's performances in "Good Time" and "The Lighthouse" show an interest in characters who are pushed beyond the brink and exploring what comes after. He's a perfect counter to Dafoe's magnetic grandstanding, which commands attention every time he speaks.

If the movie falters a bit, it's in the last act when certain actions between the characters feel a bit repetitive, but "The Lighthouse" never breaks its spell. The movie is haunting in its imagery, anxiety-inducing in its setting, and funnier than one would imagine. What it all means may be up to the viewer, but "The Lighthouse" is a nightmarish journey worth taking.

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About Udara Madusanka

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