DannyGReviews’s review published on Letterboxd:
I’m not usually a masochist, but in this particular instance I’d like to personally thank Robert Eggers for hurting me for 110 minutes.
Let’s get the obvious right out of the way - Jarin Blaschke‘s cinematography is stunning in all its high contrast black & white 1.19:1 aspect ratio glory. It’s the type of cinematography that’s universally loved by critics and audiences alike, but due to how weird this movie is, he mostly likely won’t get nominated for an Oscar in 2020 (this is probably the case for “Midsommar” too). Don’t get me wrong, I’m already excited for Roger Deakins’s eventual 2nd win for “1917” (the Academy is still not done making up for snubbing him for over 20 years) but if Blaschke miraculously gets nominated, I honestly wouldn’t be upset if he ends up winning - his work is that good.
The second obvious point of praise for this film is the acting. Robert Pattinson is carving out quite the niche fan club for himself with these off-kilter performances in these weird ass movies; movies such as “Good Time”, “High Life”, and now this. And despite some shakey accent work (at first I thought he was Irish, then he adopts a thick Boston accent, but he’s supposed to be from New York) R-Patts REALLY brings the thunder in terms of facial expressions. His “wide-eyed and haunted” look conveys layers upon layers of past trauma and emotion. In just a few scenes we already know so much about his character despite minimal dialogue.
And believe the hype on Willem Dafoe - who literally plays Captain Ahab, just swap out an obsession with a white whale for an obsession with the light on top of the lighthouse. Dafoe has a couple of 2 page-long monologues that will absolute FLOOR you, and his commitment to the role (especially in the second half of the film) is unmatched, rivaled only by DiCaprio who ate that bison liver for some reason in “The Revenant” a couple years back. Similarly to the cinematography, Dafoe’s performance would EASILY garner an Oscar nomination if this film wasn’t such a bizarre and horny fever dream.
And boy what a fever dream it is. Listen, I HOPE I’m wrong about this film’s Oscar chances. I HOPE it gets at least two nominations, if not a third for Best Original Screenplay. But honestly y’all......we all know that this film is gunna get snubbed HARD.