This tale of two 19th century lighthouse keepers both enthralls and disturbs
By Ben Thomson | Guest Writer
I believe in cinema once again.
Every year there’s always one film that’s so good it feels like a magic trick. Those films that stick with you for days, even weeks after you leave the theater, because you can’t stop thinking about them. A year ago, it was Alfonso Cuarón’s heartbreaking opus Roma. Two years before that, Paul Thomas Anderson’s mysterious love story Phantom Thread. This year, it’s Robert Egger’s unnerving film The Lighthouse, a film I’m comfortable calling an unequivocal masterpiece.
The film follows two lighthouse keepers during their tumultuous four weeks on a wet rock in foggy Nova Scotia. Robert Pattinson (Good Time, Twilight) takes the role of brand new wickie Ephriam Winslow (though the nature of his character’s identity has been the subject of much debate) with Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, Platoon) co-starring as Winslow’s crotchety boss Thomas. And this is where my summary ends, as I believe the best way to enter this film is completely blind.
The Lighthouse is very claustrophobic. From the opening shot, its 1.19:1 aspect ratio boxes us into the black-and-white world of our characters. The camera uncomfortably closes in on our protagonists for unsettlingly long amounts of time. A loud horn blares constantly as we watch Ephriam do grueling, back-breaking work. Eggers expertly draws from the likes of Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick (both of whom he homages at points in the film), creating a cold, tight space that nobody can escape from.
Both actors give career-defining performances in this film. Pattinson delivers some of the bravest acting I’ve seen in a while, putting himself into very exposing positions as his character slowly descends into madness. The real star of the show, however, is Willem Dafoe. Absolutely no other actor could’ve taken on this role. No actor could’ve pulled off the Captain Ahab caricature the way he did. It’s truly a sight to see.
I could go on and on about this film. From its period accurate dialogue to its amazing tone, The Lighthouse proves itself to be a film that won’t go away anytime soon. If you want to watch a creepy, funny, disturbing film, then check out this modern masterpiece.