Raphael Georg Klopper’s review published on Letterboxd:
It is as if like Kubrick’s The Shining had a baby with Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf and crossed path with Robert Eggers The Witch and Béla Tarr’s The Turin Horse. Physiological horrors about individuals confined in their own reclusive misery while surrounded by a mysterious and menacing nature reflecting their own individually cursed selves?! Yup, that kind of movie! And yeah I know that just by making a hand-full of comparisons from the possible source of inspirations that crossed Eggers path while writing and developing what it seems to be a real dream picture for him, it may just sound redundant to default for the in wanting to adjective substance about something that may doesn’t seem to create something of its own within the inspirations, and for some imitations, of multiple genre films and master directors whose paths have already crossed the same kind of structure and themes in which The Lighthouse presents itself as this old confinement psychological thriller.
But it is one that we can find in one of its very best forms of silent contemplative mystery, gut-busting insane and hilarious all in the same boat of creation textbook. So yeah this is great, no matter how many would like to diminish, because this movie feels more than just a director’s work of trying to convey authorship style, and yet someone who really cares about the story, characters, setting and technique in which it conveys all it tries to accomplish!
Where the answers to what it all means and represents, even if not explicitly (thankfully) spelled it out, after a while, seems easy to grasp and get it; but also feels quite incomplete, because the universe created by the movie suggests and enhances much more than what is simply found on the mere surface of all the Prometheus figurative metaphor; the Sea legend - the son of Poseidon – Proteus possible fantastical incarnation in Dafoe’s character, evoking all the wrath of the Seven Seas mumble jumble and Poseidon’s/god rule above all; the dreamlike illusions or spells in the midst of its visions of mermaids and masturbatory scenes; the possible devil's temptation symbolism over the Apple of Eden religious equivalent goal represented in the mysterious and forbidden tower of light; the homoaffective relation suggestions of fragile masculinity loneliness and lack of affection.
And all filled with extra Lovecraftian undertones and layers. I mean shit, madness? Elder gods? Scary things that make people go crazy? This is an unofficial Lovecraft narrative to the letter. It even has its own crow personated here by the deadly annoying and chilling cursed seagull. Even finding space to deliver a worthy David Lynch nightmarish type of scene before its ending. Where all its fantasy, mythology and Christianity allegories and metaphors, walk side by side in the state where man finds himself in his inner profound recklessness loneliness, and the mind embraces the insanity proposed to him as a welcoming force and cure to relieve his pain in the real through, the unreal. Where they succumb to the carnal desires of sex and drink to quench their true thirst in the loneliness and enclosure in which they live, next to the tortuous and prison force that the nature around them holds them before the mythical force represented in the old lighthouse. Pleasures beyond beliefs? The power of god? The answers to impossible questions? No matter, we don’t deserve it in our worst human state of mind and spirit!
And all of this being carried by fire blazing performances from a BEAST Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattison at maybe his very best shape as an actor, only intensifies the hard to chew surface of the stage in which all the action is presented with drastically changing degrees of mystery, likeability and unsympathy that both come to develop with their characters throughout all of it. Where our feeling and perception of what we see and feel up to the screen on this it’s almost completely carried in the shoulders of amazing performances from this two. It goes from intriguing to fun, from uncomfortable to mysterious; from thrilling unpredictability to brutal dry shock.
So yean, reclusive, mental, dreamlike, surreal or tragically real where two individuals succumb to madness and insanity, betrayed by themselves believes and primal needs, and the biding nature surrounding them made the price be payed. It’s a movie where the answers seem easy to understand, but also is constantly keeping a complex nature at its unfolding stage. Many re-watches are definitely mandatory and fun to experience, even if its also uncomfortably suffocating and oniric, all the multiple feelings that a real complex film may deliver at its most intrinsic nature. And if Eggers is proving to be this kind of director, and so more than competent at this stage, please keep up the good work sir, and bring beast Dafoe many times as you may want!