Two lighthouse keepers try to maintain their sanity while living on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s.
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I love weird movies. The seemingly awkward moments, the apparently nonsensical ambiguity, or simply the pure WTF sequences... All of these leave me deeply captivated by what the story and its filmmaker are trying to transmit to their viewers. The Lighthouse is the most recent addition to the group of psychological horror films that will make you think, "what the hell am I watching?" Nevertheless, this is one of the most accessible "weird flicks" since most of the story is easily explainable.
Therefore, I hope this Robert Eggers' movie gets a successful home release. Usually, the general public heavily dislikes ambiguous films. Nowadays, people want everything at the palm of their hands before they even watch the movie (aka trailers). So, a film about two lighthouse keepers who go crazy, where dozens of scenes apparently make no sense (they do), can fail to catch the viewers' attention. However, it found mine. Filmed in black-and-white and with a 1.19:1 aspect ratio (almost squared), Eggers delivers a gorgeous-looking piece of cinema.
People tend to (wrongly) associate the use of black-and-white with "old movies," but it's really just another color palette. For example, Blade Runner 2049 and Mad Max: Fury Road use the color yellow in such a beautiful, eyegasmic way. Color can affect us emotionally, psychologically, and even physically, often without us becoming aware. The Lighthouse's black-and-white establishes the film's mood from the very beginning. A very somber, sad, dark environment, filled with creepy seagulls, and brutal weather conditions.
If I try to imagine the movie with color, it's not going to be very different from what it actually is. There's no sun, only tons of rain, wind, and waves. It's always cloudy, and inside the house, it's still dark and cold. So, even if Eggers decided to film with color, black, grey, and white would be the predominant tones either way. That's why the decision to make this film in black-and-white is so perfect. Every shot is dripping with visual beauty. Amazing wide shots of Robert Pattinson working like a slave, getting hit by the relentless weather, all accompanied by a haunting score which elevates every sequence.
In my point of view, it's a story about how solitude can make anyone run away from reality. Lack of human contact never contributes to a good way of living. Imagining a better life or literally run away to a remote place with a non-stop job to make you forget who you are or what you did, are not going to help anyone overcome what is, in fact, a personal issue. It's a narrative given to many interpretations, so no one is right or wrong. Depending on our life experience and on our distinct personalities, each and every one of us can have a different perspective and understanding of what this movie tells through the Eggers brothers' brilliant screenplay.
One thing is certain: Robert Pattinson and especially Willem Dafoe should be considered for the awards season. However, this film is too weird and ominous to be awarded any nominations, unfortunately. Dafoe is 64-years-old, and he crawls on the muddy ground, he gets hit with rain and literal sh*t in the face, besides delivering a versatile performance. Both he and Pattinson offer a dynamic range of acting, going from absurdly hilarious to intensely dramatic displays. It's probably Pattinson's best performance to date, but Dafoe shines as a crazy old ex-sailor.
Their accents are perfect, and Dafoe's ability to "sing" complex (linguistically speaking) sea poems for whole uncut takes is worthy of every single Oscar. That's something I wasn't expecting: there's a lot of long takes that become even more impressive due to the actors' undeniable talent. It's been a long time since I had to read subtitles to actually understand what the characters were saying, especially Dafoe. Besides the strong accents, the dialogues are extraordinarily intricate and wordy, which definitely captures my attention since I have to be twice as focused.
Incredible cinematography, great editing, and a subtle but powerful score. It's a shame if people ignore this movie's existence. It's not getting released in my country, so I'll try my best to make people see it. Unfortunately, it's being ignored by every major award ceremony, which is pretty unfair, having in mind it's one of the best films of 2019. I don't have a single issue with it. Some people might not enjoy its ambiguity or its slow pacing. Still, I genuinely love how everything falls into place, culminating in a shocking, suspenseful, and tense third act that makes the massive build-up worthy of merit.
All in all, The Lighthouse is one of my favorite movies of 2019. It's definitely going into my Top10, and way up there. Filmed in beautiful black-and-white with a claustrophobic aspect ratio, Robert Eggers delivers a story about loneliness and isolation that takes the weirdest, craziest route. It's one of those WTF films that will leave everyone thinking about it. I love its ambiguity, even if most of its story is pretty accessible. Packed with suspense and tension, mostly due to the excellent cinematography and the brilliant decision to use black-and-white to set the dark, cold environment. Robert Pattinson delivers his career-best performance, but Willem Dafoe steals the spotlight with an Oscar-worthy crazy display that will be ignored due to the known genre bias. It's tear-inducing hilarious at times, but powerfully dramatic as well. I have not a single complaint, and I love it more the more I think about it. Please, watch this at home if you get a chance. Don't miss it!