Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Lighthouse (2019)

Robert Eggers's follow up to The Witch would be a classic two-hander, except that there are a few other rather obtrusive cast members, most notably the cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, an intermittent mermaid, plus a team of specially-imported, British seagull thesps, one of whom possibly deserves an Academy Award for playing dead. 

I have to say that, as with his previous feature, I was left a little unconvinced, though the performances are undoubtedly very strong and the late Victorian sea-dog dialogue is consistently diverting. 

The trouble is that the more this film strives to be dark and delirious, the more it comes across as just a bit silly. 

In a recent BBC interview Dafoe described the set up as what happens when two grown men are forced to go and live alone in a building shaped like a phallus off the coast of Nova Scotia for a month. It features a descent into madness that both men appear to have commenced prior to this ill-fated posting on the rock. 

Eggers preserves a sense of ambiguity about the situation. Part or indeed all of it could be hallucinatory. There are moments when the characters appear to comprehend that they are living through a metaphor. 

Anyway, one big take-out from the movie (or from the above-mentioned interview at least) has been that Willem Dafoe is one of those rare super-talented, yet understated Hollywood actors that would make a fine guest at a dinner party populated with people he didn't already know, in precisely the same way that Joaquin Phoenix wouldn't. 

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