After setting the film world on fire with a seventeenth-century horror film, mostly spoken in period language, The witch filmmaker Robert Eggers I had no intention of taking it easy the second time. For your second effort, The lighthouse, the American filmmaker has created a nineteenth-century drama film in black and white and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.19: 1, effectively a square. And his story centers on only two men badigned to guard a lighthouse on an island off the coast of New England. The 35-year-old filmmaker must realize that challenges often bring out the best in us.
The configuration itself is somewhat simple. Efram (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas (Willem Dafoe) arrive at their outpost for what should be a four-week work badignment. Thomas is a veteran for a long time and, in this concert, Ephram is superior. This is the first duty of the lighthouse for Ephram and he soon discovers that Thomas is going to ride on him. Ephram is badigned minor tasks, such as filling the coal fire for the almost constant fog horn, delivering the oil through the long set of stairs to the tower lamp and the general maintenance of the island. Ephram finds himself replacing singles from the ceiling, painting the tower and scrubbing the floors, but it never seems to live up to Thomas' standards. If that was not frustrating enough for the younger goalkeeper, it is also strictly prohibited by Thomas for take care of the lighthouse itself, although the company's protocol tells them to alternate surveillance tasks.
Ephram is also immediately disgusted by the personal hygiene of his new partner. Thomas throws himself incessantly and tries to take away his disgusting bedspread. And it turns out that the kitchen of the elderly watchman is not so good either. And yet, Thomas only hopes to smile and endure it, as the two men are gradually forced to be more familiar with each other because, frankly, there is no one else to talk to.
In the context of Thomas continually pressing the buttons of Ephram, the latter begins to have some strange experiences. Upon arriving, he found a small idol on his bed in the shape of a mermaid's design. Later he finds out that Thomas's last partner went crazy and died thinking that he had fallen in love with such a fantastic creature. But Ephram starts seeing strange things. One night, he sneaks just under the top of the tower and imagines some kind of tentacle in the room with Thomas. Another day he is convinced that he has seen a mermaid washing on the shore. When she wakes up and screams at him, he escapes in panic. And then there are the seagulls that seem to annoy Ephram on a daily basis. Is all this real or is Ephram's mind cheating under unexpected stress? Eggers allows you to reflect on the possibilities to the bitter end.
Even more than The witchEggers' latest effort is a first drama with minor elements of the genre appearing here or there with mixed results. When a large storm spreads, observers stay for an indefinite period of time that both men are released and the truth about Ephram's past comes to light. There are some incredible scenes in which both Pattinson and Dafoe do it, increasing the level of interest of their two characters and taking the narrative thrust of the film when it desperately needs it. These are two essentially isolated characters on an island and the limits of social etiquette are quickly fading with spectacular effect.
Image via A24
Pattinson has apparently been working at the peak of her acting skills over the past two years in films like Good weather Y High life, but it may have been overcome here. Generally known for playing the strong and silent type, Pattinson portrays with deep frustration sown below the surface until he slowly reaches a pbadionate roar. The 33-year-old actor has simply never been so raw on the screen before. There are times when Pattinson is so transformative that he is discordant. You just never thought he had it in him.
Dafoe is also excellent at playing Thomas as if he were channeling Captain Ahab from Moby Dick, but somehow avoiding the caricature (his style of speaking even makes fun of the movie). But beneath that supposed artifice, Dafoe is subtly adding surprising layers to an old man who thinks he is a master manipulator. And when everything goes wrong, Dafoe unleashes the deception wonderfully, so the audience sees it too.
Not all of Eggers' decisions work as he could have wanted. A good part of the beginning of the film finds Thomas and Ephram arriving on the island on a cloudy day. This haunts the beginning of the film and is, unfortunately, a detriment to From Jarin Blaschke Mostly impressive cinematography. The image is so dark for the first act that you often start wishing it were in color (the black and white images do not really add anything to the story). The production, which was filmed in Nova Scotia, must have found brighter days towards the end of filming because the images are cleared up considerably.
Eggers also throws a hint of homoerotic tendencies between the two men that, frankly, the film does not need. These shots are so light that they demand more answers than they give. Especially because they do not seem to have anything to do with the bows of the characters. Why include them at all? But when you have two powerful actors like Pattinson and Dafoe that set the screen on fire, many can be forgiven.
Grade: B +
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