Robert Eggers is at it again with a very ambiguous and dark story. This time, about two lighthouse workers forced to cope with the confined space and each other. Willem Dafoe plays Thomas Wake, an experienced sailor-turned lighthouse keeper who is extremely protective to the point of obsessed with the light. Robert Pattinson plays Ephraim Winslow, a former timber worker new to the job, the climate, the isolation, basically everything that comes with the job of being a lighthouse keeper.
Both characters have a very mysterious past that I’m still unclear as to what to make of it. I’m all for leaving certain part of stories or characters open to interpretation, but “The Lighthouse” felt more like an unclear time lapse over which character can act the craziest or have the craziest hallucinations and the audience is asked to figure out why without much context.
The overall cinematography of the film was lacking. The black and white film, while I understand was meant to make the characters appear morally grey, also had certain shot compositions unnecessarily tight-even the outdoor shots. Certain shots were also out of focus, and I’m certain it wasn’t to add to the intrigue because there was nothing in those elements that helped the story. If it were meant to, the cinematographer failed to guide the audience in that direction. The whole “Don’t tell me, show me” mantra of filmmaking was left with much to be desired.
The acting overall was few and far between. With not much dialogue the first 15 minutes of the film, when Pattinson’s character did start speaking, I couldn’t tell if he was supposed to be Irish, British, or turn-of-the-century American. Needless to say, he doesn’t even hold a candle to Willem Dafoe.
Though Dafoe’s performance was much more impressive, I struggled to figure out how much of what was coming out of his mouth was truly how his character was, from delusions of his own, or just intentionally trying to make Pattinson’s character crazy.
There was plenty of allegory and metaphor to this film that unless you’re up to date with your British folklore and Greek mythology, you’re going to miss a lot of it.
While “The Lighthouse” is ambitious, I believe the director is still inexperienced in telling the kind of story the audience is expecting (or at least hoping) to see.