The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse ★★★★★

I finally watched Robert Eggers's The Lighthouse having only heard praise regarding the film for months. None of that praise though could honestly prepare me for what a mental and disturbing, yet often hilarious and captivating watch this was. I can't say I've seen a film quite like The Lighthouse ever, and I mean that in the best possible way, as I think The Lighthouse is something of a masterpiece. The film is the second directorial feature from Robert Eggers, and while I thought his first feature The Witch was not only a remarkable debut, but an impressive film in general, I think The Lighthouse is a massive improvement upon The Witch.
With The Lighthouse, it never seemed like Eggers was trying out or experimenting with different techniques, whilst making a coherent film. He clearly went into the film with specific types of shots in mind, an idea of the type of tone he was intending on setting, and had a very clear mindset of how he envisioned the characters. Not to say The Witch was incompetent, however, I just got the impression that when Eggers approached The Lighthouse, he approached it much more confidentially than he likely did The Witch. His sense of style and structure certainly felt much more experienced here than it did with The Witch. Regardless, he's definitely proving himself to be one of the most intriguing directors working right now, and I can't wait to see what else he makes in the upcoming years.
Similarly to The Witch, The Lighthouse is gorgeously shot. The whole film is shot in black and white with a nearly square 1.19:1 aspect ratio. Given the film takes place in the 1890's, I can't think of a more appropriate way to stylise such a film. This distinct look flattered the film immensely. I found it gave a very haunting impression, and it matched the eeriness of the film's tone incredibly well. There were plenty of long takes and close-ups that I thought were incredibly well done, and they helped embed such a creepy atmosphere to the film. This
film is so detailed in aesthetic look and it conveyed the time period it was setting so well that I actually found myself captivated in the setting for which this film takes place.
The attention-to-period-detail of course really helped sell this, but so did the production design. The set pieces were very period-appropriate, and they actually built a 70-foot lighthouse specifically so it could align with the vision Eggers had for this film.
The whole film is complimented by a great, ominous score. It's so creepy and isolated, and it perfectly fits the mood and tone of the film. The film is composed by the same composer who scored The Witch for Eggers as well. I was really impressed by how atmospheric and captivating the music was in that film, yet the composer excels with his efforts here. What I particularly loved about The Lighthouse's use of music is how much it factors in sound design as well. There's so much noise, many of it dietetic, in the music, and it perfectly helps escalate that ominous feeling. As the 2 main characters start descending into madness, you yourself start picking up on certain details, unknowing if these details are intentional or unintentional, such as the use of music, and to an extent, you yourself start going crazy while trying to figure out what's a behind-the-scenes detail, but what is and isn't also established within the film's universe. I'm aware that everybody has already said this, but the performances from Robert Patterson and Willem Defoe are exceptional. Patterson at first gives a very withheld
and subdued performance, yet as we learn more information about his character with passing time, he becomes much more vocal in simply trying to maintain his sanity. Even when he is quiet though, Patterson demonstrates so much detail through specific gestures and mannerisms that within the first act, I already established a good amount of insight into him. His accent is phenomenal as well, and I'm so glad were at a point in time where we can call Robert Patterson one of the best and most hard working actors, and not hold him accountable for his association with Twilight.
Willem Defoe meanwhile is flat-out amazing, and gives possibly the best performance I've ever seen from. Defoe is easily one of the most versatile character actors working, and with his performance as Thomas Wake in The Lighthouse, I became completely invested with him as a character instead of the actor I know and love. In The Lighthouse, Defoe is essentially unrecognisable. It's not just the bushy beard and crazed look in his eye though, it's his incredibly specific accent that completely transcends Defoe as an actor and absolutely illustrates his immense commitment as an actor.
How these two interact with one another as their respective characters is nothing short of marvellous to watch either, and I think their pairing certainly helped illustrate certain characteristics. Other than that, I haven't really got anything to add to The Lighthouse that hasn't already been said, expect for that if your gonna watch the film in the comfort of your own home, I would strongly suggest using subtitles. The film is very dialogue-heavy, and while that dialogue is amazing, and it's also very period-accurate, so much of how characters talk and phrase certain sentences might be difficult to understand, unless of course you use subtitles.
I can't really do The Lighthouse justice by telling you about it. It is insane and something you simply have to see in order to believe. Regarding it's sanity, the film flawed me, and even day after seeing it, I'm still in awe of what I witnessed. If your like me and still have yet to see The Lighthouse, do make getting round to it a priority, because this is pure cinema and passionate and dedicated filmmaking of the finest level.

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