In 1890’s New England, two lighthouse keepers (Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe) try to keep their sanity while living in a remote island lighthouse.
Director: Robert Eggers
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language
Fun Fact: Filming was demanding on the cast and crew as the weather conditions were not the best.
I’m a massive fan of 2015’s The Witch as I thought it was one of the better horror films to be released at that point. Director Robert Eggers had brought something unique and fresh to the table. I had patiently waited for his next film as he is a talented writer and director in the horror genre. 2019 arrived and The Lighthouse was released, and I had been wanting to see it. I also saw that my new favorite film studio A24 was behind its release. Now what could possibly go wrong with those two working together on this film? 2019 was already a strong year with many great movies, could this belong with them?
The Lighthouse is a beautifully shot film and one of the more unique one’s I’ve seen in a while. It is shot in black and white in a 1. 19: 11 ratio. If you do not know what that means it is not a wide screen presentation you would see in most films. That brings the film something fresh and unique as there are not many movies being presented in that format. The style of it made me feel like I was watching something from Alfred Hitchcock. We get transported back to old school film making and I loved that. I am a sucker for classic movies, and this was a great tribute to that. Jarin Blaschke’s cinematography captures these moments in the best way possible. The film feels claustrophobic and the camera work brings that feeling of being uncomfortable really well. Blaschke did a great job on The Witch and I could see why Eggers brough him back.
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe have a great chemistry. I liked how their characters were the polar opposites of each other. Pattison is the quiet one, and Dafoe is the loud and vocal one. Willem Dafoe is an intense actor and it shows in this film as well. It is one of my favorite performances of his. Pattinson delivers the best performance I have seen him in. He brings a lot to the table and he has a lot of heavy lifting in some powerhouse scenes. The script calls for dialogue and language from that time era. Both actors pull it off well.
While it is a technically beautiful film with fine performances, there are areas that bring this film down for me. It’s a shame because I wanted everything about this film to be great. This film drags and not in a good way. I enjoy a slower movie once in a while, but this was not one of those times. The thing is that it is only a little over an hour and a half but feels like three hours. I get the fact that we are watching these people slowly lose it in a way, but it could have been a bit faster. We get quite a bit of repetitive scenes of Robert Pattinson’s character doing chores around the lighthouse and Willem Dafoe’s character being abusive to him. It just felt like it was on rinse and repeat mode for a while and I get the story is limited in what can happen on an isolated island. I love psychological horror films, but this just did not really hold my interest in certain points. This is one of the rare times that I did not enjoy a musical score in a film either. While some of it worked in certain areas, most of the time there is this giant drone noise that was driving me mad. I don’t know if that was the intention of the sound, but I was starting to hate I after a while.
Overall, The Lighthouse is the weaker of the films that I have seen from 2019. It was more of a disappointment for me because I really wanted to like this film. I had waited for Robert Eggers’ sophomore effort and I hope his next feature he can bounce back in a way. It by no means is a terrible movie because there are things that I enjoyed. The technical aspect is amazing and is a tribute to old school film making that we have not seen in years. The performances are great and there is some great chemistry between Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. It’s biggest downfall was that I just could not get into the story as much as I should of. The film was a little too slow for me and I do like slower movies. It felt like it was on repeat mode for quite a bit of the film and I was losing interest after a while. The musical score was not something that I was getting jazzed about either. Again, I really wanted to like this movie, but I hate to say it I would consider The Lighthouse to be overrated.
Verdict: Middle Ground