The Lighthouse is — for lack of a better term — absolutely wild. It’s the type of movie that will have you questioning what the heck you just watched once the end credits roll, which is my very polite way of saying that The Lighthouse isn’t going to click with everybody. But if you’re down for the atmospheric, hallucinatory, and often hilarious madness that ensues in this movie, you’re in for an absolute treat that will be unlike anything you see this year.
From its black-and-white visuals to its claustrophobic aspect ratio, every frame of The Lighthouse burns into your eyeballs and transports you both into its 19th century setting and its characters’ delirious mental states. As the movie escalates from ‘really weird’ to ‘oh-my-gosh how did this get even weirder,’ all the aspects of the movie that work feel raised to the umpth degree, particularly in the performances and visuals. This is essentially an acting showcase for Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, as they fully commit themselves to their roles in all their drunken insanity and give what might be the best performances of their careers. Dialogue in The Lighthouse is sparse, but both of them knock every line and monologue so far out of the park that this might be one of the most quotable movies of the year, which is even more impressive considering how difficult it can be to hear through their thick accents. But, for real: the scenes where their characters butt heads are simply hilarious, and it’s refreshing to see a movie so oozing in style and craftsmanship that doesn’t feel the need to take itself too seriously.
Well, you also could take it seriously if you wanted. When it comes to the movie’s ending, you’re left with far more questions than answers, as well as the ability to read as much or as little into minute details as you want. I hesitate to make any Kubrick reference in a review, but The Lighthouse is undeniably reminiscent of The Shining in its ability to drive audiences just as mad as its characters by leaving them scrutinizing every corner of the frame for hints or symbols. I admittedly walked out of the theater not making much of the movie’s ending, but it has only lingered in my head over time and upon reading different articles about it, I’m tempted to go back for a rewatch with a new lens.
Regardless of what you make of the ending, I still can’t believe this movie got made, period. It’s bizarre, it’s confusing, but — most importantly — it’s simply awesome. At its worst, The Lighthouse is a movie that I deeply admire, but when it comes to its frenetic dancing or raging monologues? Avast, maties; I’m fully on board.
“The Lighthouse” is Ben Watches Things Approved