Old salts, sirens and symbolism
If you were thinking that “Joker” would be the only excellently acted ‘decent-into-madness’ film in theaters this Halloween season, guess again. The Lighthouse one-ups the Crown Prince of Crime in terms of craziness, creepiness and artistic merit and delivers two award-worthy acting performances.
The story is simple: two men, Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) are lighthouse keepers stranded by a storm in a dark and cold lighthouse in 1890’s New England. The men dislike each other and we watch the slow burn of them being driven insane by cabin fever and their paranoia of each other – with some weird and wild ocean mythology thrown in for good measure.
Written and directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch – 2015), every frame of The Lighthouse is a work of art with symbolism up to its gills, shot in a near 1:1 ratio that adds an extra feel of claustrophobia to the already dark, dank, high-contrast black and white atmosphere.
The only color in this film comes from the incredible, old-timey, sea-faring (even call it pirate-y) dialogue that is delivered with enthusiastic zeal – especially by Dafoe as the salty old lighthouse veteran. I would love to read the screenplay for this film and plan to watch the movie again just to soak in its seafaring soliloquies.
The musical score of this film is perfect and it is intermingled with the unsettling sounds of foghorns, sirens and seagulls that are almost as much a character as the two protagonists. As the movie moves forward, you start to question the reality of the narrative as if you have been sitting there losing your mind right along with Wake and Winslow.
I loved this film, but on the downside, well, it is a serious downer. The warm feels will only come from enjoying the artistic achievement of Eggers’ vision and from the amazing dialogue.
(On a side note, while watching this movie I couldn’t help but envision Pattinson in his upcoming role as Bruce Wayne/Batman – and I’m now convinced he will be perfect for the part.)
If you had to pick only one mental-illness oriented film this season, I would go with The Lighthouse. At least these guys aren’t hurting anyone but themselves (well, and maybe some sea life.)
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