The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse ★★

The b&w grain, plus the squelching mud, and the emphasis on bodily fluids of all sorts might suggest Tarr, or perhaps the Aleksei German of Hard to be a God, though there's actually not much attempt at approximating a sense of reality—the frames more often recall the anachronisms of Guy Maddin, minus the actual wit, humour, and inventiveness that make his madman ramblings actually worthwhile. And bereft of that, Pattinson and Dafoe's exertions mostly feel strenuous—a showcase of actorly affectation, the former's oiled-up, sweaty physique, and the latter's gnomic elocutions. Like Midsommar, it's an ostensibly go-for-broke sophomore feature where the impulse to Direct seems to have overwhelmed the intention to make a good movie in the first place. Superficial technical facility overwhelms, so the project feels like an extended screen test for a period-accurate look—a set of vintage Baltar lenses employed by cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, the 1.19:1 aspect ratio, a custom cyan filter, etc. Eggers's own comments tell you all you need to know: "Before I even had a story, the cover page of the script said, 'Must be photographed in black and white 35-millimeter negative.'"