Release Date: October 25th, 2019
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe
Director: Robert Eggers
Studio: Regency Enterprises, Parts & Labor, RT Features
IMDB| Rotten Tomatoes | Wikipedia
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert Eggers is back creating movies that are aggressively my shit. His followup to 2015’s The VVitch takes us to the east coast in the late 1800’s, where two lighthouse keepers, or wickies as the movie teaches us, are about to begin their four week watch. The senior wickie, Thomas (Willem Dafoe) keeps the light while the new hand, Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson is left to the dirty, laborious work. Over their four weeks the men get closer, and more unhinged…
The first thing to note about The Lighthouse is just how many choices it makes that, in other, lesser films would cause the movie to flounder almost immediately. First, it’s black and white. For the majority of audiences, we love color and spectacle – but just because the film is devoid of color doesn’t mean it is devoid of spectacle. Far from it.
Another, is the ratio. The Lighthouse uses the aspect ratio of the silent film era, the 1.19:1 (quite the difference from the current standard widescreen 16:9). Again, this alone would be a enough for audiences to bounce off of. Instead the precise framing serves to make clear how deliberate the framing of the movie is.
Third, like The VVitch, The Lighthouse employs an era appropriate lexicon and speech that can make lines downright unintelligible, and at some points it does. In others, it makes the dialogue poetic and the delivery beautiful.
All of these incredible choices could doom a film, but in the steady hands of Eggers they instead complete some sort of hypnotic ritual, a siren’s call pulling us into the story. It’s wonderful how enraptured you become.
The Lighthouse feels like a filmed adaptation of a piece of 1800’s horror fiction. You recognize the dread of sounds, of madness, or lingering images and the fears only glimpsed out of the corner of your eye. Your unease grows along with Winslow’s – cut off from the lighthouse and a purpose – you’re left to wonder what’s going on and why is Thomas doing what he’s doing.
The movie builds and builds until everything begins to shake loose and Winslow’s (and our) grip on reality is lost completely. The Lighthouse is a beautiful entry into Eggers’ work, and he’s only getting started.
If you enjoyed The VVitch, you already have your tickets. If you’re on the fence, go see The Lighthouse, it’s an experience!