Many ideas ran through my mind during Robert Eggers’ sophomore outing The Lighthouse. The film is void of any type of narrative or dramatic structure, choosing instead to clip scenes together that confuse and frustrate.
Shot in black-and-white with a 1.19:1 aspect ratio, Eggers shines bright in attempting to reinvent modern cinema while stealing from a lot of others along the way. The film may seem wholly original in absolutely every way, but masters of the ‘40s and ‘50s are proudly looking down on the attempt.
All of the things you’ve heard are true. Robert Pattinson ferociously masturbates multiple times and is seemingly drunk throughout the entire second half. Willem Dafoe essentially steals every single scene with his big-lip verbiage and character command. The fact that neither will be considered for an Oscar is the crime of the century. The dialect is borderline impossible to understand, especially in the quieter moments of the first hour.
But it is safe to say we have really found something here with Eggers. 2016’s The Witch gives you absolutely no answers to what’s real or make-believe, while also feeling pinpoint accurate in regards to folklore specificity. The Lighthouse effects in a similar fashion.
Many moments give you a sense of hallucination but then backtrack sharply with considerable amounts of questioning still occurring. There is even a point where Dafoe tells Pattinson that he may not even be real — and you really do debate and rethink the entire film over even though it’s likely played for comedy.
Never did I imagine this would have aspects in common with a certain popular ’80s film, but does it ever. Pattinson’s chase for the unattainable throughout ends in an unrelenting and shocking revelation that would make David Lynch proud.
Not since Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer have I seen this much precision into creating cinematic nightmare fuel. Eggers brings up certain ideas every once in a while but a deeper meaning is never really found or meditated upon.
In many interviews, Willem Dafoe has praised Eggers for his dedication to historical accuracy and research. It’s best to take his word for it, as many elements here are extremely foreign and indecipherable. Set to make 10th-century drama The Northman in the next few years, Eggers seems to be the contemporary king of artsy period pieces, settling for three-in-the-morning horror instead of boring pass-the-time conversation.
A24 has found something with Eggers and fellow companion Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar), and it’s an exciting time to be a fan of strange-eclectic-arthouse cinema that is getting widely released.
Featured Image: Eric Chakeen