“The Lighthouse” is without question the best film of the year

In the new film "The Lighthouse", Willem Dafoe makes a push for Oscar glory and Robert Eggers solidifies himself as one of the greatest new directors.

The Lighthouse” is a tale of how two men, isolated on a decrepit rock, fall into a state of murderous hysteria. Robert Eggers is such a stupendous filmmaker, viewers will likely fall victim to the same enchanting curse that strikes down the main characters. 

The film has only two characters, Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and Ephriam Winslow (Robert Pattinson). Winslow arrives at a lighthouse post for a four week contract. His reality stops making sense and his unique relationship with his fellow lighthouse keeper begins to falter as neither Wake nor Winslow can truly know whether the other is who they say they are.

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson’s characters sit and argue.(A24 Pictures, 2019)

The Directing

Robert Eggers has only directed two films in his career, “The Lighthouse” and “The Witch” (2015). Despite this he already has a very clear style that is extremely prevalent in “The Lighthouse”; Eggers makes period pieces and will go to ungodly lengths to make his films as historically accurate and detailed as possible. When building the sets and scenery for “The Lighthouse” he implemented the same building techniques used by workers in the 19th century. He directs Dafoe and Pattinson to speak with the same accent and dialect that their characters would have. Eggers is changing the way films are created, and by forming such an immersive on-screen world Eggers gives the viewer a truly unique experience. 

As a storm batters the island Dafoe and Pattinson tend to their duties. (A24 Pictures, 2019)

The Acting 

The only characters in the movie are played by Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. While both give brilliant, career-defining performances, Dafoe gives easily one of the greatest displays of acting from the past quarter-century. A24, the distributor of “The Lighthouse” has said they will lobby for giving Pattinson best actor at the Oscars, and rightfully so, but Dafoe is the one who deserves it the most. For someone with as iconic of a face as Dafoe, it is remarkable that you never doubt he is anyone besides Thomas Wake while on screen. There are multiple points in the movie where Dafoe’s character goes on long monologues, and said monologues are something to behold; while the dialogue of these scenes is great, Dafoe’s delivery and body language help give the viewer tremendous insight into how his character ticks, while also creating more mystery over who he really is. The only area of the movie where Pattinson might outdo Dafoe is when the characters finish their descent into madness. In this one scene he displays a full palette of emotions as all the insanity of the island consumes him and he finally breaks down. Pattinson saves his best for last in “The Lighthouse” and makes the ending scene hauntingly memorable. 

Dafoe’s character rants toawrds Pattinson’s character for neglecting his jobs.(A24 Pictures, 2019)

The Writing

Is it weird to say that the writing is actually the weakest aspect of what is arguably the film of the year? Is it even weirder to say that the writing is still better than 99% of films out there? The main “problem” with the writing is that narrative-wise, it can be too simple at points. When it comes to the plot and the characters, the script is perfection, but as far as the narrative is concerned, there isn’t much. Eggers hasn’t shown himself to be a narrative-focused filmmaker. But because of the nature of “The Lighthouse”, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “The Lighthouse” is a psychological thriller and is more focused on exploring an idea, and how these two people left isolated would act than proposing how they should act.

Dafoe monologues while eating dinner.(A24 Pictures, 2019)

The Cinematography

Think of the most beautiful painting you’ve ever seen. Take a moment to focus on the grand aspects and the more subtle features. Now imagine a film where every frame is just as beautiful and detailed. The Lighthouse is a piece of art, Eggers made sure of that. For “The Lighthouse” Eggers once again collaborated with cinematographer Jarin Blaschke. When it comes to sheer beauty and the way it is shot, this film is beyond compare. I would argue it is the most exquisite-looking black and white film of all time, except possibly for “Roma”.  Another aspect of what makes this film so gorgeous is that artistic style. There’s a certain subtle ambiance to the art style of “The Lighthouse”. It has a lot to with the way lighting and contrast is utilized, fitting being that the movie takes place at a LIGHThouse. Eggers is a genius of a filmmaker and his style of filmmaking matches perfectly with Blaschke’s cinematography. This harmonious teamwork leads to every frame looking like its own piece of art.

Pattinson and Dafoe’s character take in the morning air.(A24 Pictures, 2019)

Other Aspects

As well as using old fashion techniques to build sets, Eggers does the same for the costumes and props, simply adding to the level of depth and immersion. 

The sound design/mixing is profoundly good. It is impressive to the level where you don’t even notice it because everything sounds so natural. 

The same can be said for the music. The music in “The Lighthouse” doesn’t just match the tone and atmosphere perfectly, it’s also just beautiful music that would affect you no matter the context under which you heard it.

After being yelled at, Pattinson’s character spys on his colleague.(A24 Pictures, 2019)

Conclusion

The “Lighthouse” is not just a great movie, it is not just a Oscar-worthy movie, “The Lighthouse” is one of the best movies in years and truly solidifies Robert Eggers as a unique filmmaker. This film is extremely captivating, entertaining and will certainly affect you and likely shake you to your core. It isn’t just an artsy film either, it’s an interesting and captivating enough story that it can be enjoyed by everyone and is such a fantastic movie that should also be seen by everyone.

 

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