Sheldon Dugas’s review published on Letterboxd:
Going into this movie, I knew there was a chance I wouldn't like it. I wasn't a fan of Robert Eggers first feature, The Witch. But, I wasn't going to let that stop me from seeing this movie. I went into The Lighthouse with an open mind and with a hope that I'd love it. This situation already happened to me this year with Ari Aster's Midsommar, as I strongly disliked Hereditary but loved Midsommar. Alas, that did not end up happening.
First off, I think this might be my most hated (and I know that's a strong word, and one I don't like to use very often, but I think it's appropriate for this movie because of how it made me feel) movie of the year, but certainly not the worst.
This movie started out very interesting, and made me ponder so many questions. Why are these two guys here? Why does that seagull love Robert Pattinson so much? How did he find the mermaid wooden figure so quickly? What is up with the dialect in the movie? These questions intrigued me, and for the record, I have nothing against the dialect in this movie; I appreciated the attempt to be realistic at the time, even if the movie suffers overall with me not being able to understand every word that is spoken without the use of subtitles. Sometimes asking these questions to myself during different movies lets me attempt to understand it on a deeper, more enjoyable level, but that wasn't the case in this movie.
I think Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe do the job they were asked to do in this movie, for better and more obviously, the worse. I did not connect with either of their characters, and both their backstories are not the most interesting or investing. This movie asks so many questions without giving a proper answer. And I get I can figure some out for myself, but I feel like it was done in a way to make fill in the gaps, but when I have to do that countless times already, it quickly becomes stale. Their characters are both strange, violent, and crazy. I wasn't rooting for them at all and I just wanted to like them even slightly.
I have nothing against black-and-white movies. I remember my first black-and-white movie being The Last Man on Earth. That movie changed my younger self's opinion on black-and-white movies. I get that they serve their purpose in so many movies. I did not like this movie's black-and-white cinematography and aspect ratio. I understand what Eggers is trying to portray by shooting it this way. We, as an audience, are supposed to feel claustrophobic. I felt that the way the movie was shot and edited diminished that effect and took me out of the movie instead of sucking me right in. I can only assume that this movie was shot only using natural light, and while there are very few shots that look interesting, it also distracted me.
Lastly, I am going to briefly mention the plot of the movie, or lack thereof. The plot of this movie feels so barebones, like Eggers and his brother wanted us to feel like what was happening in the movie was just as shocking and unexpected for the characters. I wanted there to be some higher meaning to it, or some overarching plot thread. Instead, it felt like the plot rested solely on the characters to push forward, and as I've discussed before, I did not like them very much. I had theories that I won't be discussing here, but I feel like they almost make the movie more interesting in my brain than what the movie ever showed me
I feel like I can keep going on about what I dislike about this movie, but I think I'll do that in the comments if anyone wants to comment. I'm ready to take any constructive feedback on my review and for us to have a civil discussion about this movie. I really tried to like this one.