MOVIE THEATER REVIEW: “The Lighthouse” stars Robert Pattinson (Twilight, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Valeriia Karaman. It is directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Tell-Tale Heart [Short]), who co-wrote it with Max Eggers. When Ephraim Winslow (Pattinson) joins Thomas Wake (Dafoe) as a lighthouse keeper for three weeks, things turn for the worst.
I’ve been sitting on this review for over a week now; guess it’s time to share my thoughts. The moment I saw the trailer for “The Lighthouse,” I was hooked. With it’s small aspect ratio, black-and-white coloring, and German expressionistic approach to storytelling, Eggers was going all-out to make something fresh by dipping into the past. Really, I didn’t care what the film was about; it looked beautiful, and that was that (I really got some “Nosferatu” vibes from the promotionals). So, after seeing “The Witch” one night, I decided that it was time to take my cash, drive down to the theater, and see Eggers’ latest work. Needless to say, my eyes were glued from start to finish. “The Lighthouse” is a strange piece, one that grabs you and rattles your bones until you have no sense of anything that’s going on. What’s with the crazy seagulls? Why is there an octopus? Why is it only in one shot? All of these and more are never truly answered, but they add levels of complexity in a way that makes you as an audience member feel for the insanity that these lighthouse keepers go through (and man, do they go nuts). There were quite a few times where my skin crawled during this experience. Not necessarily in the sense of fear, but more so in disgust and shock-value. If you know Eggers, you know he loves to create choatic imagery that messes with your head. In more ways than not, “The Lighthouse” is his most trippy work to date, for it blends the tangible and metaphorical to the point where you become scatterbrained. One scene in general had me in a daze, when Winslow was having nightmares that flashed on the screen, detailing mermaids and a naked Dafoe that seemed to come out of a renaissance painting. What’s the message behind it? You got me, but man is it cinematic. By the time the credits roll, it is revealed that in writing this, Robert and Max pulled from actual lighthouse keeper journals, as well as various novels that spoke on fisherman life, such as “Moby Dick” (which is referenced quite a bit in this). The dialogue is simply enchanting; it can get incoherent with how much our characters get drunk throughout the duration of the film, but it couldn’t be more natural. Clearly, it is some of the best performed/written drunk conversations I have ever seen unfold. It had me laugh on various occasions, which surprised me considering how I never thought this would teeter on the comedy side. The performances that carried these moments were flat-out spectacular. By far the best that I’ve seen from both Patterson and Dafoe. Their chemistry is noteworthy and they made their characters unforgettable. The escalation of events that alters them mentally is encapsulated perfectly, and it’s hard not to get lost in the moment. As I mentioned before, the cinematography is amazing, with just about every frame a work of art. The location was awesome as was the production design and wardrobe. This is set in the late 1800’s, and the style/tone that this story presents couldn’t have been nailed on the head any better. If I were to pick any negatives, it would mainly pertain to the ending. I thought the direction the story took was alright, up until the last shot. It’s a major nitpick, but it just didn’t settle with me well. Really, they could’ve ended it on the shot beforehand, or maybe something more… coherent? But, what do I expect from an oddball of an experience? All in all, “The Lighthouse” is a remarkable feature that leaves you thinking. About what exactly? I have no idea. Mainly, “what did I just witness?” It isn’t like anything that is out right now, nor has been out this whole year to say the least. If you are looking for something different to watch and don’t mind to be rattled, then I’d recommend you see it. Otherwise, it’s probably best you steer clear. “The Lighthouse” takes a certain taste, one that I find won’t reach the regular popcorn viewer, but inspire the up-and-coming filmmakers of today. FINAL SCORE: 94%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: