THE LIGHTHOUSE (3.5 out of 5) Directed by Robert Eggers; Screenplay by Max Eggers and Robert Eggers; Starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe; Rated R for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language; Running time 109 minutes; In wide release October 18, 2019.
I wish I could tell you what The Lighthouse is really about. Truth is, I still don’t quite know the answer myself. What I do know is I went to a 10 PM screening on a Thursday night and the theater was packed. I looked around and came to the conclusion that I would probably get along with all these audience members with the risk of having only one thing in common: we all liked The VVitch.
The Lighthouse is weird. Really weird. But a cool kind of weird. It dances with being artsy-fartsy but doesn’t get too full of itself. On a remote island, two lighthouse keepers try to entertain themselves while slowly losing touch with reality as the isolation becomes too much. There is something more, though. The light of the lighthouse intoxicates, driving both men mad as Dafoe tries to keep the light to himself and Pattinson wants nothing more than to see the light for himself.
Both leading men give phenomenal performances, spinning tales of the sea with the thickest accents that I at times wish I had subtitles for. Dafoe maintains consistency in his character’s personality which acts as a baseline by which we judge Pattinson’s descent into madness. Is Dafoe sane the whole time? Or was he mad to begin with?
Director Robert Eggers does not go lightly into his films. For The VVitch, he researched heavily how people spoke and even used actual passages found from that era. He’s done it again for The Lighthouse but in…uh…more scientific “how would someone fuck a shark?” terms.
The imagery is surreal, blending dreamlike sequences with reality and leaving us wondering “so does the aspect ratio on this ever change or what?” Is this movie for everyone? No. Definitely not. Especially not the girl I was sitting next to who was obviously only there for her boyfriend and was checking her phone every twenty minutes. I felt for her, I can’t describe The Lighthouse as anything but weird, but it’s my kind of weird.