Movie Review – The Lighthouse – Dark and Forbidding Film
My Rating – 4 out of 5
Plot Summary – The Lighthouse
This was a sleeper hit from 2019, though it’s not spoken about much, possibly because of its dark, melancholy, and brooding tonality. This has a total of 8-9 characters and the predominant colours are Black, Grey and White, much like the mood of the film itself. It is edgy and a bit manic, and deftly highlights the ills of the trapped human mind, where illusions and reality merge into one troubling vision.
Set sometime in the late 1800s, a pair of heavily mismatched men arrive at a depressingly desolate island off the coast of England as the keepers of the Lighthouse on that piece of land. Thomas Wake (Willem Defoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson), spend the next few weeks amidst relentless rain to keep the flame alight, fighting both the vagaries of a ruthless Nature as well as the meager supplies which test their patience.
Thomas, being the senior keeper, treats the younger Ephraim like the proverbial dirt and allocates all the menial chores to him. The most important part of tending to the flame at the crest of the Lighthouse is out of bounds for Ephraim, a diktat that is driving him nuts, literally! Both men absolutely hate each other and one can sense the acrimony building up between the two but as the raging storm has confined the two of them, they have no choice but to bear with each other.
The isolation, futility of menial labor, hostile company and bleak surroundings add to the darkness of the movie and would have moved a normal man to insanity. Here, both characters are already troubled and the circumstances here add to their agonized mental state. Ephraim makes an enemy of a Seagull, fantasizes of a Mermaid and curses his older companion. His only release seems to be self-pleasure and Thomas’s seems to be passing wind, loudly. The soundtrack is relentless, its either pouring rain and the angry, churning sea or the two shouting at each other, in invective riddled rants.
From the beginning, this feels like a race, who will get to complete insanity sooner! The shortage of food, abundance of liquor and time coupled with the inhospitable surroundings lend to the film’s dark theme and the director Robert Eggers needs to be lauded for this – you won’t like what’s happening in front of you on the screen but you also won’t be able to turn your face away!
Ephraim Winslow: What made your last keeper leave?
Thomas Wake: He believed that there was some enchantment in the light. Went mad, he did.
Ephraim Winslow: Tall tales.From The Lighthouse
Conclusion – The Lighthouse Movie Review
The two lead Actors do a fabulous job, particularly Robert Pattinson. He simply nails it, bringing the desperation of a trapped man to the fore with great elan. His hallucinations, frustration at not being able to get to the top of the lighthouse lends a feral touch to his nature and he’s possibly at his best characterization ever, and by all means, a large part of that credit should go to the director for giving him that kind of room to express himself.
Not one to be left behind, Willem Dafoe brings the spiteful Thomas to life, his motives of being a jerk seem inscrutable and quite a few times you’d want to strangle him, should you get the license to kill! His is a power-packed performance as well, but not quite his best. Since the entire movie is shot in Black and White and the skies are always grey (dark to very dark), it is to the Director’s credit that he maintains the ominous note hanging over the movie from start to finish…
If you haven’t watched this one, I suggest you do, it’s a very good piece of cinematic achievement!