The Lighthouse is an essentially perfect movie that can start your path to salvation, even if it does differ from anything you ever saw before. Nothing pulls you out of this nightmare vortex, ultimately leaving nobody within immediate arm’s reach to deliver you out of the muck. The subjects of focus who help you make this realization about yourself are two men on the island, one a younger man, the other an older veteran. They oppose each other’s personalities as the older one knows full-well the harsh predicaments prone to cause psychosis for the long gruesome days ahead in their four weeks together.
The two leads’ desperate eyes always go to the shadows, the same way the subtle use of window frames suggest desires for salvation, even though outside is nothing but overcast clouds to set the mood. The underexposed mist photography at dusk retards the view, just another subtle touch by director Robert Eggers to draw you into lunacy. The smaller aspect ratio (1.19:1) flaunts black bars at the top, bottom, left, and right. The image perhaps originally fit the full screen, but the black bars now close the cramped space by cropping off the tops of the heads, as if the actors barely fit.
This movie reminds you of similar outbursts you had against your own past roommates, moments when a place you dislike and people you dislike bring out your absolute worst to control your absolute best until it kills you. Even I would prefer a roommate who never farts with his butt hanging out, like this bearded gentleman does. But I also prefer to not work in these ungodly conditions that are acutely captured for how grueling they really are. It succeeds because the length of the film outlining their time feels longer than it really is. As the young guy waits impatiently to obtain the salvation he seeks, the musical score (oh goodness, the music) that depicts his impatience sounds like Davy Jones was sent to creep beneath. It beautifully complements the spooky wisps from outside when he finds a little inanimate mermaid figurine inside his mattress, perhaps left by a previous worker. Then the young one becomes oddly drawn to her fishy figure, we even watch him masturbate to the wooden recreation of a freaky siren’s shrieks; he vividly fantasizes what her vagina might look like as he imagines himself banging her on the beach; he sure stooped low in his gross wet imagination!
He forgets the Lord’s promise despite his repulsive job: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
The island’s rains increase the longer they live there, a sign of eventual drowning from being so mentally ill. Overseeing these heavy rains are flocks of seagulls that act more like buzzards, to the older fellow, these pests possess the souls of deceased sailors. Yet the young one is taunted through a single-eyed seagull until it generates a bloodbath on a stone, “To Kill a Mockingbird” style. As the movie goes on, the sight of the swooping seabirds no longer comforts your eyes, especially when the gut-churning last frame damns your hopes for salvation back to your high school days.
Now, the two characters get angrier off alcohol, until the old boss goes mad under Poseidon’s power, perhaps even believing he can (or actually can) channel those powers through his spiritual union with his drink. The younger lackey likewise starts quiet, then grows angrier, to the point when his inner demon releases onto the only other living piece of flesh available. As they both drink, their efforts to obtain the salvation of God as anticipated from their house on the rock isolate themselves from themselves further, with other ethnicities outside of Whiteness intentionally left out to further emphasize the aloneness.
To complete the insanity, the strongly dedicated monologues sound reliant on themselves for salvation. Both actors slay the script, exhausting their vocalizations even when dirt or excrement is being thrown into their faces—what sincere dedication! But a kaleidoscope of the beacon’s light pattern stands in the way of these two with whatever must be inside it. The crazy nature it initiates between the two makes even the sentence, “If I had a bloody steak, I would f*ck it” sound natural.
The Lighthouse is a hard watch, an experience meant to stir your gut, forcing you to see the worst in others, especially yourself. None of us are safe from potential hotheadedness, for even your very home carries negative qualities, and even the kindest humans have negative irks that upon repetition can compel your genocidal, then suicidal tendencies, which Robert Eggers thankfully depicts. Henceforth, I could go on further to argue how Eggers’ feature ever presents the true sinful nature of flesh-and-blood, and the true redemptive salvation of Jesus.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
A24. “Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse.” Digital image. Vox. Vox Media, 21 May 2019. Web. <https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/5/21/18632743/the-lighthouse-review-robert-pattinson-willem-dafoe-eggers-cannes>.
The Lighthouse. A24. Web. <https://a24films.com/films/the-lighthouse>.