Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

The Lighthouse (2019)

Directed by Robert Eggers

Starring Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe, Valeriia Karaman, Logan Hawkes

Author

Beautiful, but very weird. What you’d expect from an art film.

As a period piece, it’s exceptional. Sets, costumes, the beautiful photography, pacing, and performances all seem truly authentic. Really great historical flavor.

The magical combination of suspense, madness, and creepy birds is reminiscent of Hitchcock. The simple framing, moments of silent contemplation, and themes of psychological isolation are reminiscent of Kubrick. Odd, droning sound effects and careful use of a Bernard Herrmann-inspired score creates a nice backdrop for the creepiness.

But as a descent into madness, something’s not right. Howard, in particular, is mad from the start, making the subsequent descent less impactful. And if we’re not taking the full psychological journey with the character, then we need more going on in the story. By the end, we are lost in myth and ambiguity. If this really meant to be a believable journey of someone going nuts, it starts and ends in the wrong place.

Dafoe is amazing, isn’t he? The accent, character, performance, all fantastic. If this movie wasn’t so weird, I might see an Oscar for him. Having not seen him in anything other than the Twilight movies, Pattison is surprisingly dramatic. It’s interesting how the different training methods of both actors, with Dafoe loving rehearsals and Pattison preferring to wing it, resulted in a shared performance that really gels.

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