The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse ★★★★½

rivals Shame for the most nightmarish orgasm of the decade.

one of the most foul and fetid films since Hard to Be a God. shot in a boxed-in 1.19:1, the filth is stacked across the frame. edited like a nightmare, creating a surreal sense of being unstuck in time. the dialogue is barely legible, but both central performances are leering and acerbic, some of the best work from both actors this decade. the sound design is maybe the greatest technical highlight in a film full of them, heightening the oppressive atmosphere with a rollicking seasickness.

if you can’t see this in a cinema, at least watch it in the middle of the night on a large screen in total darkness. while obviously this is the ideal way to see most films, I doubt The Lighthouse would even work at all under any other conditions (which is no fault of the film). shades of Hour of the Wolf and The Turin Horse flicker throughout, and together the three would make a cracking - if exhausting - triple bill on the inevitability of existential despair and the psychology of codependency in an isolated environment. while a little more stylized than I would have liked at times, the flashiest sequences are at least a showcase for the aforementioned elements of technical brilliance at their most virtuosic. that all said, the film’s best moments are its quietest, observing the drunken ballet between the two protagonists as they swagger violently from fisticuffs to embraces. how long have we been on this rock?

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