The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Horrific and ridiculous. Seamlessly switching between the genres of horror, fantasy and comedy whilst never rooting itself in any. The stylistic choices lend themselves to the narrative superbly, from the 1.19:1 aspect ratio (reminiscent of expressionist German cinema whilst also pushing that sense of claustrophobia) to the choice of film stock (turning almost all colour into an oily black, making scenery and locations look as if they were etched in charcoal). The low key backlighting creates thicks black borders and accentuates facial features, in the way that harsh angles and points did in expressionist cinema. Whilst the film clearly holds many influences, it absolutely stands on it's own.

Whereas the plot maybe rather linear, it's the details in between that turn this into a muddied Lovecraftian nightmare. The film is constantly flicking between the subjective and objective, presenting dreams as reality, to the point where theres no longer a clear line between them. Old maritime myths begin to bleed into reality, identities get chopped and changed. At the heart of everything is a quest for truth, for objectivity. The characters may present themselves as running or hiding from past mistakes but it seems that they're both consumed by this desire for chasing truth.

Truth, in the film, seems to manifest within the light of the lighthouse. The further away from the light, the stronger the subjectivity of thought is. Outside amidst the rocks and the oil pits are the feverish visions of sex and death. However, it appears there is no objective truth within the light - what Tom sees and what Tommy sees are not the same. One man sees warmth and love and one man is destroyed by what he sees.

In many ways this pursuit of truth runs parallel with our own experience of film. Forever hunting for meaning, for an ultimate truth. Yet it's not there. My reading may ring true for me (on this viewing) but may greatly contrast another's interpretation. That seemed to be the main takeaway message/theme of the piece and the delivery of it was incredible. I'm sure that my interpretations will shift with repeat viewings.

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