Sunday, October 27, 2019
The Lighthouse (2019 film)
Directed by Robert Eggers and written by Robert and Max Eggers, The Lighthouse is the story of two lighthouse keepers who tend to a lighthouse in the late 19th Century as their life of solitude becomes troubled as they endure their own demons. The film is a psychological horror film that explore the world that two men live in as they deal with their own issues as well as their state of mind as they start to unravel. Starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. The Lighthouse is an intoxicating yet haunting film from Robert Eggers.
Set on an isolated island in the U.S. in the late 19th Century, the film is about two men running a lighthouse as they live and work in a solitude environment that eventually gets to them as their four-week tenure is extended further by a storm and other disturbing events. It’s a film that doesn’t have much plot as it play into two men working at a lighthouse as they deal with the job at hand amidst horrendous weather conditions and other strange things. The film’s screenplay by Robert and Max Eggers opens with the arrival of Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) and his supervisor in Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) as the latter had ran the lighthouse before as Winslow learns that Wake’s previous assistant had gone mad. Winslow accepts the job for pay as he learns to deal with Wake yet he would start to see strange things including a mermaid (Valeriia Karaman) while he also witnesses Wake behaving strangely as well. The tension between Winslow and Wake would come ahead yet would either be soothed or intensified through alcohol.
Robert Eggers’ direction definitely recall films of the past in not just its visuals and its usage of the 1:19:1 aspect ratio that is more akin to the cinematic style of 1920s/1930s cinema. Shot on location in Nova Scotia, Eggers does use some wide shots to get a scope of the locations as well as the sea to play into its air of isolation yet much of the direction is emphasized on close-ups and medium shots with some intricate camera movements throughout the film. Eggers’ usage of the close-ups doesn’t just play into some of the emotional moments of the film but also in some of the dramatic tension and suspense as it relates to the moments in and out of the lighthouse as well as what Winslow sees on the island. There are also these offbeat moments in the film as it relates to Winslow’s encounter with a seagull as Wake states that killing one would bring a curse to the island.
While there are moments of the film that do slow things down as it involve scenes of no dialogue, it does play into not just some of the tension that occur but also into the surreal moments of the film. Notably in what Winslow sees in the film as there are also these intimate yet lively moments of Winslow and Wake as they get drunk and sing sea chanteys while going into conversation about themselves and such. Even as it goes into the third act as Winslow copes with what he’s encountered as well as it play into what he is seeing is real or maybe in his head. Even as Wake becomes more upset over what Winslow had brought to the island as Eggers’ direction does intensify while he creates these gorgeous compositions that add a lot of intrigue into what Wake does at the top of the lighthouse which he always closes. Eggers’ visuals would showcase some of the mystery of that lighthouse as along with the island are characters of the film as it would play into everything Winslow and Wake have been fascinated by. Overall, Eggers crafts a terrifying yet rapturous film about two men working and living in a lighthouse on an isolated island.
Cinematographer Jarin Blaschke does incredible work with the film’s black-and-white photography with its usage of lighting for some interior scenes at night along with the way the rocks and muddy roads look as it is a highlight of the film. Editor Louise Ford does excellent work with the editing as its usage of rhythmic cuts help play into the drama and suspense along with the few bits of humor as a lot of it is straightforward. Production designer Craig Lathrop, with set decorator Ian Greig and art director Matt Likely, does brilliant work with the look of the lighthouse and the houses around the lighthouse as well as the interiors in how small their bedroom is and how shambolic the home looks from inside. Costume designer Linda Muir does fantastic work with the costumes as it is largely low-key into the uniforms that the men wear as well as the shambolic look it would have.
Special makeup effects artists Shane Shisheboran and Vague Vartanian do terrific work with the look of the mermaid as well as a few things that Winslow would see. Visual effects supervisors Eran Dinur, Luc Julien, Marc Massicotte, Eric Pascarelli, Vico Sharabani, and Asaf Yeger do superb work with the visual effects as it relates to some of the film’s surreal moments as well as some minimal work in the look of the seagulls flying above. Sound designers Mariusz Glabinski and Damian Volpe is amazing for the way a foghorn would sound from afar as well as the sounds of the seagulls and the sea as it helps bring in this tense and eerie atmosphere of the film. The film’s music by Mark Korven is phenomenal for its ominous and chilling score that is filled with heavy bass in the strings and in some of the instrumentation as it helps with the atmospheric tone of the film while its soundtrack feature traditional sea chanteys.
The casting by Kharmel Cochrane is wonderful as it feature a few actors who make appearances from afar with Valeriia Karaman as the mermaid. The performances of Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in their respective roles as Thomas Wake and Ephraim Winslow are sensational in displaying the manic energy and paranoia they both endure with Dafoe being more of an authority figure who farts a lot and tells a lot of stories while Pattinson is the one doing more of the physical duties who becomes frustrated on many levels including sexually as he would masturbate to a mermaid figurine. Dafoe and Pattinson have great rapport with one another as they deal with their own differences in age and work methods as well as be two men trapped in this island and tending to a lighthouse with mysterious things surrounding it and from within.
The Lighthouse is a spectacular film from Robert Eggers that features two great leading performances from Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. Along with its gorgeous black-and-white visuals, evocative music score, eerie sound design, and its chilling premise. It’s a film that explore the idea of two men in an island running a lighthouse as they deal with bad weather, personalities, and all sorts of shit as they also encounter things that are hard to describe. In the end, The Lighthouse is a phenomenal film from Robert Eggers.
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