The Lighthouse (2019) Review


RATING: 4.5/5


Two lighthouse keepers have to stay on a remote island for a short period of time. It is during that time the two begin to lose their sanity.

The second feature film from director Robert Eggers, this is my first exposure to this guy’s work. I have to say I’m looking forward to what “The Witch” is like.

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe do great in their performances. The characters they play weren’t good guys by no means but were nonetheless interesting and fun to learn about. Whenever they talked normally or talked while drunk. While the film doesn’t give explicit details on their backstories, it gave out enough to make one question who was the real enemy. The film did a really good job of making one go back and forth on who to root for.

The cinematography was great. It really got my attention with the film’s intro. There were wide shots showing the entire lighthouse and building accompanying it. There were glorious yet haunting shots of the ocean, especially during the night. There were no fast-cuts or quick editing.

The camera would move slowly at the right timing to create an uneasy feeling. There were some nicely-done camera movements and good transitions from one type of shot to another. There was an instance where the camera would switch from a mid/wide shot of the two characters talking, then it would switch to a mid-shot of a character coming back to the table to talk. All done in one continuous shot.

There wasn’t a whole lot of sound or music, though whenever it did come up, it was used effectively. The waves crashing up against the shore, the seagulls bellowing, and the horn of the machine rutters going off.

The production design and technical aspects were great. I found it very interesting that the aspect ratio was changed to replicate the films from the early 20th century. In addition, the entire project was shot on 35mm film and of course, in black/white. Those things made one believe they were watching a blast from the past.

There was plenty of weird imagery that would surely get one thinking after and think to themselves what they watched. Not only weird imagery to enhance the insanity of the isolated dilemma that the two men had, but there was also some subtle imagery that could levitate the story being told.

Now there were some things that bugged me. While the two main performances did a great job at replicating an old-New England accent, that made it tough sometimes to know what they were saying. I may need to put subtitles on when I watch this in the living room.

After the climax, the film seemed to get choppy as to how Winslow/Thomas, played by Pattinson, looked. At one point, he looked fine for the most part, then literally the next scene he had a bloody face and was struggling to get up the lighthouse stairs. Beforehand, he was not struck in the legs, only in the shoulder when the other Thomas, played by Dafoe, struck him with an ax. How did Winslow get so broken so fast? This continued in the very last scene when he got naked and he had his innards get eaten by seagulls.

Also, what was the deal with the fascination with the light in the lighthouse? I feel like at points the film was being too vague and it was leaving some things to be up for interpretation. But that is not a bad thing at all, that interpretation can lead to very interesting theories.  

“The Lighthouse,” much like with “Joker,” is a psychological film that definitely gets one scared and thinking. It has great performances from the two main leads, well-crafted technical aspects, really good cinematography, and a good atmosphere/mood.

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