I guess like Paul Thomas Anderson, I’m just not going to be able to get into Robert Eggers films. But understand, I do “get” them. I understand the deeper meanings, motifs, messages, symbolism, what have you of what both filmmakers are trying to do. And I admire their tenacity. I’m just going to have to accept that most, if not all of their films just won’t be my cup of tea. And that’s okay, we all have different tastes. And mind you, THE LIGHTHOUSE wasn’t a waste of my time. There is a lot of good about it, which I’ll get into, but I just wasn’t able to “get into” it myself. I was pretty bored, looking at my watch constantly, ready for it to be over. But there is a huge different between films like these from these filmmakers and a film like…I don’t know…let me bring up a random recent movie….oh okay, I got it…Joker! Paul Thomas Anderson and Robert Eggers films are at least very original in their content and execution, but I don’t think I can get into them because of the weirdness of that execution. But at least they are original. They aren’t a movie trying to pretend its original but instead rips off about a dozen other movies and think they are cinematic masterpieces…
Yes, my grudge for Joker is still strong, especially when news of it being the Top Rated R film of all time (which they should adjust for inflation because then it wouldn’t be) hit this weekend. But we are here to talk about the 2nd feature from Robert Eggers, writer/director of The Witch, The Lighthouse. All I really need to say about the film is that it is about two lighthouse operators that get cabin fever and start to turn mad over their four weeks on a particular job. Willem Dafoe plays Thomas Wake, the head honcho that makes Ephraim Winslow, Robert Pattinson’s character, do all the shitty and hard jobs while Wake just tends mainly to the light. Tensions rise, hallucinations start to happen, fights are drawn, and mermaids are fucked. Yeah, you think I’m kidding…but anyway, the whole film is a character study about two men slowly going mad topped off with a very sudden and weird ambiguous ending. Not that I don’t mind ambiguous endings, I just don’t feel personally that this one was very earned.
But let me get into the positives about the film, so you know I don’t hate it (it is a huge critical darling, but like The Witch, it’s audience score is just getting lower and lower). Let’s start off with the performances, because really this is a two man (and a nasty seagull) show. Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are masterful here. With Good Time, The Lost City of Z, and now this under his belt, I can say I am 1000% confident that Pattinson will make for a great Batman/Bruce Wayne. While Good Time is still my favorite performance of his, mostly because Good Time is a near perfect film, Pattinson is phenomenal here, his descent into madness convincing and very heartbreaking. Willem Dafoe is near perfect here as well, as the head light honcho that might just be a devious secret asshole (based on your perspective of events). The only problem with his performance is that I couldn’t understand half the shit he was saying with his accent. It was like trying to watch Jeff Bridges in the remake to True Grit all over again.
The film, being in black and white, is gorgeously shot. I wouldn’t be against it getting a cinematography nomination at a bunch of award ceremonies this year at all. The tone, setting, and mood of the film all work in the pictures’ favor, and to imagine this film being in color, God, I don’t want to think about it…probably would’ve ended up hating it. The visuals are near perfect. But visuals and performances do not a great movie make for me. Even though the performances were great, I couldn’t have cared less about either of the characters. I honestly think that if they would’ve made either one of them a much more sympathetic or one of them much more clearly problematic, I could’ve gotten into the movie more. At least one of their descents into madness could’ve been more emotionally investing that way instead of just feeling relief that the movie was finally nearing its end. But maybe that was the point, for both of them to be morally ambiguous, but if that was the case, then it just didn’t work with me.
People will say the movie is too weird with its imagery. But if you know anything about certain Greek mythology/lore like I do, then you’ll realize that everything in the movie makes sense if you look at it from different specific points of view. Especially if you see both characters as being representations of Prometheus and/or Proteus. But like I said, I was either too bored or didn’t care about what was happening to the characters to really give a shit. And it’s a shame, because I was really looking forward to this film going into it. It is very cinematic and artistic, and if you really loved The Witch, and all the symbolism meshed well with the horror and imagery and story with that film, then you are probably going to love The Lighthouse as well. It was just not my cup of tea, and his films, along with Paul Thomas Anderson’s, may very well never be. But that’s okay. I figure that if I at least don’t write these off as total trash then my opinion may count for something. So if you really do think that this film is genius, I fully support your admiration and reasons for thinking so. The light was not bright for me, nor was it burnt out, just dimmed and hazy.