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TIFF 2019 Film Review: “The Lighthouse” (2019) ★★★★★


There aren’t that many films that can be counted on our fingers that could force the audience to multitask. Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals” was one of them where the viewer must revisit it as many times as possible to capture certain aspects of the film the first time they were unable to. “The Lighthouse” from Robert Eggers is many things, and one of them is that when you’re in the company of a madman, be prepared for the greatest fight of your lifetime – stay sane or go crazy.

Shot on 35mm black-and-white film, “The Lighthouse” is a brilliant psychological thriller that follows Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) who is sent to a remote and mysterious island in New England to become the lighthouse keeper. Not realizing what he is up for, he joins his elder cohort, Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe), who is rather emotionally and psychologically unstable and even more unpredictable as he slowly invites the young man into his wild world with no way to escape it.

Gorgeously shot, the film opens with the newly arrived Winslow, who quietly and obediently with minimal dialogues, begins fulfilling his duty while Thomas, as promised, is taking care of the light. Things escalate when young Winslow begins questioning his elderly mate, how he managed it all alone during the time with no help. At first, Pattinson’s hero is a normal guy who’s just there to do his part. He is not mad and there’s nothing about him which could suggest remotely. He would not touch alcohol offered by Dafoe’s Thomas but accepts it just because he was left with no other choice.

As for the film itself, “The Lighthouse” is one of the wildest filmmaking pieces you will ever witness. From start to end, you will be mesmerized by its beauty, exceptional dark cinematography, psychological atmosphere, fully loaded close-up scenes, superb character study, and the performances you will never stop talking about. The performances delivered by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are much more than you expect, stronger than words can describe, lustrous than light so bright it’s enough to burn human eyes. In short, we must have done something really good to deserve such an honor what Dafoe and Pattinson bring to us.

In the end, “The Lighthouse” is one of those films that fulfill every need the audience may demand. There’s no flaw in it, no gaps or questions. This film jumps into the world of sanity that slowly disappears. It’s about the question of nature and what it may do to a single man if he messes with it. So be ready for a wild ride with “The Lighthouse”, be part of it, experience, and enjoy. By the time you reach the end of the film, you will be grateful that you lived long enough to witness the greatest performances of your life that may not be repeated in a single movie ever again. It’s a historic achievement by all means and would be considered as the greatest crime if you misunderstand it.

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