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“You feel shame when you lie with a woman?”
The Lighthouse is a film that has tormented my thoughts for over a year now. I’ve found myself completely unable to express even the slightest smattering of how I feel about it. I remember thinking to myself once I left the theater that this was a film that would require multiple viewings before attempting to tackle it in a review format. So, here we are two watches later, and I think I’m finally ready.
This movie is all about the juxtaposition and clash in its environment. The entrapment of Winslow between two identities. The waves crashing onto the rocks deafens one ear as a foghorn blares in the other. The persistent lure of both a mermaid and the large phallic lighthouse. The reality we know and the hallucinatory parts we create. The young and the old. The truth and the lies. But, as Andre 3000 says, “it all blends perfectly if you let the liquor tell it.”
It’s once Winslow enters this perpetual state of drunkenness that shit begins to hit the fan. He becomes susceptible to both his deepest fantasies and darkest nightmares. It’s coerces him into a false level of trust that eventually causes guilt to reverberate through the entire film. To get to this point he has killed and hidden away so much of himself just for the promise of being able to buy his own land and live his own life. The classic conflict of the American Dream.
However, to say The Lighthouse is just an exploration of the lie that is the American Dream is a lie itself. The film simply cannot be classified as one singular thing. It’s a sprawling and chaotic nightmare drenched in unbridled insanity and masculinity that reeks of toxicity. We’re shown the many different facets of every character and are left to decide for ourselves which is who they really are. The brilliant performances from Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, the incredible writing and direction from Robert Eggers, the mind-boggling sound design, and the claustrophobic cinematography accompany the film perfectly and make the descent through the twisted minds of these characters worth going down. And by the end it all, you're left with no choice but to, as Big Boi says, “Go on and marinate on that for a minute.”