Robert Eggers first film following The Witch, sees Tom Wake (William Defoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) shipped off to a piece of rock in 19th Century Maine, for four weeks of lighthouse keeping.
Their relationship is similar to that of a spikey grandparent and a child. The elder drip feeding a smile and teasing a sense of humour, after a drink, only to bark another order and ignore human emotion.
The tension is palpable. There is a dangling awareness that something sits on the horizon. You can be sure that you will never predict what.
Watching The Lighthouse in lockdown is particularly interesting. The intensity of being in one place for a long duration of time, with minimal human contact and the mundane repetition of boredom is more relatable than before. What could that do to a person?
Regardless of the current state of the world today, the connection that is created between the audience and Pattinson’s character is extremely powerful.
We feel his thumping head when he wakes up hungover, with no water to drink. We smell the bowls of shit next to the bed. We can taste the rank food he’s eating. We can smell the cigarette smoke from his perpetual habit. We are on the rock with him and it is repulsive.
Robert Pattinson is remarkable. It is no surprise that he was praised so highly in the press for his performance in The Lighthouse. We forget that we are watching the same pretty man who struts around the Hugo Boss adverts, or makes a mockery of his own skillset in Twilight. The Lighthouse sees a new Pattinson being born, accompanied by the everlasting talents of Dafoe.
This background knowledge of the stardom of Dafoe compliments the character portrayal in this film. As there is a mentorship, a father and son love and hatred – we are never fully sure which way the pendulum will swing.
We must of course, talk about the fact this film is completely without colour, however that is no bad thing. The black and whites are so vivid; utterly suffocating and beautifully executed. Daylight is a bitter relief from the darkness of the night, however a little intense on the eye as it crashes on to the screen.
Eggers pieces the film together in short, abrupt and aggressive pieces. The score is haunting. The aching moans and groans of The Lighthouse mechanics and foghorn are relentless and at times, rather unpleasant to listen to.
The Lighthouse, upon a day of reflection, was the smell of bad fish. The thought of someone else’ saliva in your mouth; a different temperature to your own. Wet clothes in a cold room. It was discomfort at its finest.
I did not enjoy The Lighthouse, however like many other A24 films such as Midsommar, Climax and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, I could not stop watching and I am ever so pleased that I did.