DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Lighthouse is a genuine masterpiece to me, because it touches on so many themes that I have always found extremely interesting in any form of art.
In this monochrome exploration of sanity, Eggers manages to construct a tale that always, like the waves surrounding the Lighthouse, ebs and flows between grim reality and disconcerting fantasy. He manages to slowly build this up to a point where it almost becomes impossible to discern when it's high tide or low tide, culminating in the uncomfortable sensation that it's probably both at the same time. Reality and fantasy merge into a fevered insanity that needs to be drowned, be it in alcohol or the waters surrounding our protagonists.
I was constantly reminded of the works of one of my favourite authors, Edgar Allan Poe. Like him, Eggers seems to have a deep understanding of the human psyche. I have always liked the fact that Poe managed to create the best invisible and intangible villains in his stories, i.e. man itself and its boundless and feverish id and ego. Eggers does no different here in this beautifully shot nightmare. We see two men, hardened by life, lose a battle with their own minds. Fuelled by isolation, alcohol and the unrelenting surroundings, their perspective on their respective realities becomes muddled and untrustworthy, for both character and observer.
In the end it is the weathered character of Defoe's brilliantly portrayed hardened labourer that manages to provide them some grasp on reality. There are points in the story where he actually tries to do the rational thing when things go awry, but (the equally brilliant) Pattinson’s spiral down into the deepest pits of his own paranoia is an unwavering force. Eggers, through the absolutely staggering powerhouse performances, confronts us with watching characters literally losing themselves, making us share the doubts of what is real and what isn’t.
In and of itself, with the effective setting adding so much to the suffocating atmosphere, this would have been enough. But Eggers alludes to the supernatural so effectively and gives us snippets of the Prometheus myth in such a clever and unobtrusive way that this brilliant film is elevated to a level unreachable for most filmmakers.
I cannot find fault here. The crafting of the language these sailors speak, the visual palette, the sound design, the brilliantly unravelling plot, the beautiful almost still-life like tableaus Eggers creates, it all culminates in something perfect. Because that’s what The Lighthouse is.