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“The Lighthouse” A Blistering Psychological Drama





Review by John Delia

Gripping, engaging, wicked and possessed the move The Lighthouse is one of the odds on favorites for an Oscar. The acting, directing and cinematography captivate the viewer with a story that so punishing you’ll leave the theater in a sweat. It’s one of those dramas that don’t come around too often and when they do they’re a must see. Bring your slicker and an umbrella as this film will blow you away.

Veteran lighthouse attendant Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) returns to the island to work his monthly shift. With him is new employee Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) a former lumberjack who was hired by the company. Wake has been lighting the beacon for years so he tells Winslow to keep the fires going on the generator so he’ll be able to rotate the beam as a signal to ships at sea.

Willem Dafoe as Thomas Wake and Robert Pattinson as Ephraim Winslow in The Lighthouse from A24

The weather has already been fierce along the coast with cold rain and a howling wind. Working on the outside of the lighthouse Winslow shovels the fossil fuel into buckets and then into a furnace. It’s a tedious job and he takes leave often to warm up and get shelter from the wind and rain. But, there’s even more reason for concern as Wake tells Winslow that there’s an enchantment weaving a web of emotional discord.

The film turns dark as the two are cooped up in the small rooms of the lighthouse by storms. Director Robert Eggers works with his two actors to depict characters that are already in despair from previous times in their lives. He starts out by making them a comradeship although loosely fit for each other. He then inserts some slipping down introducing alcohol to loosen their tongues.

Willem Dafoe as Thomas Wake and Robert Pattinson as Ephraim Winslow in The Lighthouse from A24

The film’s actors are equal in their ability to provide the tough healed men and make them believable and at times evil in their nagging comments of one another. Dafoe’s character plays on Pattinson’s Winslow creating a dislike and a moment later a devilish friendship. The two have that kind of chemistry where each become one as if fighting their inner daemons by punishing the other. It’s this rare display of acting that wins awards and both should get nods when the Oscars start tallying the votes for nomination.

Robert Pattinson as Ephraim Winslow in The Lighthouse from A24

Music and special effects are a big part of the film as well showing the evil coming ashore and getting into their minds. The winds are hurricane like, the rain pelting like darts and the cold being the result of the two penetrating forces. The black and white are necessary to keep the film dark and foreboding. The sound effects are mind bending and are as much part of the story as the damp walls, the dimly lit stairs, and the ominous beacon. The water becomes their adversary with their black waves and towering white caps adding a measure of impending doom.

The Lighthouse has been rated R by the MPAA for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Put your money on this powerhouse. (5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Robert Pattinson, Valerlia Karaman
Directed and co-written by: Robert Eggers
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Horror
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity, violence, disturbing images, and some language
Running Time: 1 hr. 49 Min.
Opening Date: October 25
Distributed by: A24
Released in: Theaters, Black & White

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