It had only been a few minutes but the sound of the lighthouse was already stuck in my head along with the whooshing of the ferocious gray sea that covered the screen. “The Lighthouse” is a film by director Robert Eggers, whose previous project was the acclaimed 2015 film, “The Witch”. In this film, Eggers presents a story that can be classified as a thriller although it incorporates fantastical and surreal elements. Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Winslow (Robert Pattinson) are two lighthouse workers who arrive at a small desolate rock for four weeks. They are to live together in a tiny shack, while Winslow is in charge of the chores. The resulting dynamic of these two very different lighthouse workers living in the confines of a small house surrounded by the sea is one of constant tensions and arguments.
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe are problematic roommates who eventually bond over alcohol and over the dreadful weather that hits their tiny piece of land. Slowly but surely, Winslow starts a descent into madness that is made believable through Pattinson’s ability to completely let himself go through the performance. Dafoe is no exception as his look of an old sailor with some serious issues regarding his bond to the light adds to the overall somber atmosphere. The black and white cinematography and the movie being shot in square format creates a claustrophobic feeling, where there is no room for extra details. The contrast created allows the viewer to see every tiny detail and crevice in the actor’s faces. These dramatic compositions evoke german expressionism through the use of deep shadows and distorted images that create a nightmarish feeling. Sound is another element that stands out in the movie. There is clear attention to detail as many of the sound effects not only function as a mere background but allows the audience to feel part of the setting. The low and deep sounds of the lighthouse, the sea and sometimes, even the sound of screaming, will leave your ears ringing.
Once again, Eggers uses an animal as an ominous symbol for impending doom. The seagull in “The Lighthouse” can be compared to Black Philip from “The Witch”, only this time with no words. There is also slight silliness throughout the whole movie, whether it is through humor related to bodily fluids or through the frantic drunk dancing and singing of Winslow and Wake. “The Lighthouse” takes itself a bit less seriously than the “The Witch” yet it still is able to create a feeling of dread.
“The Lighthouse” is another production by A24, everyone’s favorite independent movie house. It was named Best Movie at the Cannes’ Critics Week and Directors’ Fortnight by the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI). It also got some of the best reviews from the festival assuring once more A24’s vision for a good movie that is also a little bit creepy, interesting and completely fascinating.
Read the review in Spanish here.