“The Lighthouse” is certainly in a class of it’s own. A beautifully acted and shot, black and white vision, about two lighthouse keepers struggling to maintain their sanity is a tale that is a marvel to look at but it’s snail-like pace could lose a few viewers along the way.
Willem Dafoe’s seasoned lighthouse keeper and Robert Pattinson as his new assistant, star as the film’s only speaking cast. When their styles clash and weird events began to occur on the island where they’re the only two people around, a spiral descending into madness begins and both men are pushed to their psychological limits.
But boy, is it a slow descending spiral.
Let’s start with the negative first. The pace of the story drags and drags and it’s not a terribly long film. When the payoffs do come around, they’re not always terribly rewarding and you’re left with more questions than answers. And there are a lot of questions. This is a pitfall a lot of filmmakers stumble on with creatives pieces like this. You could very well lose your audience and at times it almost lost me.
If you do manage to “get it”, you could find a lot to like in “The Lighthouse”.
Dafoe and Pattinson each knock their respective performances out of the park with the former serving up an old crickety sailor portrayal that is possibly among the best ever, and the sometimes wooden latter ringing up one of his best performances. They play off each other the entire film and it works.
Director Robert Eggers also gives us a beautiful and original looking picture. The black and white works really well and nothing gets lost in his environment despite that lack of color. The chipped paint on the lighthouse and houses surrounding it, the wildlife, and even the mythological imaging we get, all brings us closer to the story.
Is it entertaining? Well, that’s a tough one.
I did get bored for stretches and the conclusion to the story didn’t agree with me, but this is art. If you’re looking for an easy watch then this isn’t for you. If you do want a thinking challenge of a film then “The Lighthouse” is definitely worth your ticket money.
Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes.