The Lighthouse (Robert Eggers, 2019, Canada/USA)

    The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers’ latest period outing after his excellent feature debut The Witch, is an instantly “memeable” film. Willem Dafoe as the elder lighthouse keeper Thomas Wake is a force of nature, his performance verging into camp but delivered with incredible sincerity. The lines of dialogue exchanged between Dafoe and Pattinson as Thomas Howard, his helper, will be remembered even after viewers have long forgotten the film itself. I have already found myself quoting one particular scathing monologue by Pattinson. 
    It may be said that The Lighthouse is style over substance - Eggers himself admits in interviews that the film emerged out of a desire to make a period piece about a lighthouse, and that the story was written secondarily. That being said, when the style is this good, it is hard to fault Eggers.
    The film is also a stylistic curio. It could best be described as a  hybrid between Samuel Beckett, German Expressionism, and The Shining. The Beckettian aspect comes from the Godot-like interaction between the two leads, trapped in isolation on a lighthouse in Maine in the 1890s. As in Godot, they await a figure who never arrives. This theatrical aspect of the film is broken up by the incredible cinematography of Jarin Blaschke, who replicates the feeling of German expressionism using vintage lenses and natural lighting. There are scenes out of The Lighthouse which feel straight out of a Sjostrom film.
    The Shining parallel can be found in the descent into madness brought on by isolation. This descent into madness is a bit too slow, which is one of the film’s main weaknesses. Still, when the film does explode into madness, the Lovecraftian imagery is truly unique. While I still feel unclear on the greater significance and meaning of The Lighthouse, I have a strong desire to revisit it already.

8/10

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