The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse ★★★★½

The perplexity of ‘The Lighthouse’ is its divisiveness. Half of the reviews I’ve read express feeling alienated by its gradual stupor at the same time as the other half are magnetised by it, and I place myself firmly in the latter camp.

A film about our sinister propensity for subordination, its kaleidoscopic implications are a perfect reflection of the madness that drives us to order every social situation into a system of hierarchy. There is no clarity to the film’s themes, nor to its presented chronology. Instead, we assume a kind of meso-reality of incongruities and dread, and what better way to explore the murkiest, most obscure depths of our psyche which create servants and masters in all things: sex, labour, truth, death? Its narrative impossibilities are not the random firings of diffuse concepts or intentions, they are a deliberate morass that represents the senseless nature of our social systems. Ours is a reality ripe with horror: a blind faith in the supposed virtue of strata is the existential threat that dominates the struggle of our time.

Pattinson’s fumblings as he navigates his own inconsistent accent are the weakest parts of this character-intensive experience for me, but his madness is resolute and he provides one of the most chilling ending-shots to a film that I’ve ever seen. Dafoe undoubtedly steals the show, providing one of his most engaging and quotable performances to date.

In the interest of concision I’m looking for a descriptor that best attests to the quality of ‘The Lighthouse’. ‘Artistic’ has been circulating as I’ve been writing this review, but I think that haunting is the mot juste.

"Why'd y'spill yer beans..."

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