A review by Jessica Waites, Queen Majesty of Waiteslandia
Although I fancy myself an enlightened, philosophizing person, sometimes things just go straight over my head. Like this movie, The Lighthouse.
I will start by saying I love that it’s shot in black and white. There are some scenes where you’d think you were watching a 1920’s European horror film. Now, I know black and white movies have fallen out of favor but I urge any person who claims to be a movie lover to not look at it as a drawback, but as something to embrace for new and older films.
So get out there and watch Casablanca dammit!
Now back to The Lighthouse.
We start with an opening shot of the two men we follow through the entire movie. Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson). Ephraim is Thomas’ newest assistant to help take of thee ol’ lighthouse. (I personally enjoyed Dafoe’s special attention to the presumed accent of an 1890’s sailor).
Right away, Thomas crosses the lines of societal politeness with his unapologetic flatulence. Then after Ephraim declines a drink of alcohol at dinner, Thomas demands a good reason. After the first night, things go from “unfortunate living situation” to “Stop the insanity!”. We see snippets of dreams and delusions, brought on by feelings of guilt and loneliness. There’s also a power struggle between Ephraim and Thomas where Ephraim does not want to be a “wife” and Thomas demands the lighthouse quarters be nothing but clean and orderly. When an order is given, Ephraim is to respond dutifully with “Aye Sir”.
Overall thoughts: I personally think an understanding of sailor lore and the Greek Mythology (Prometheus/Proteus) would add an extra layer of understanding to the subject matter that plays out on screen. However, I did not do any pre-game study sessions and I did enjoy the beauty of the film and the wackier moments shared between Thomas and Ephraim. Ephraim’s backstory offers up an explanation for his psychological well-being, while extreme drinking practices (knocking back Kerosene) help us understand the increasing mental fragility of the two lead characters. If you like movies where down is up, and up is down, set in a lonely atmosphere with a dark, ominous tone, go see this. The leading men did a great job and I do love when Willem Dafoe incorporates any of his dance moves into a film. Once it was over though, I did not get the sufficient answers I needed to qualify this as a superbly made movie, but for its artful nature, interesting characters, and tense atmosphere, I give it one flipper up.