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The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse with its ominous atmospheres and its journey to the bottom of madness, ‘The Lighthouse’, the new work by Robert The Lighthouse Eggers (‘The Witch’), presented at the Directors’ Fortnight, is positioned as a firm candidate for the most savage film of the present edition of the Cannes Festival. A master of psychological terror and disturbing crescendos, Eggers takes his time to warm up the engines of “The Lighthouse.” After a foggy and fabulous prologue, the film places us on a small island offshore, in Maine at the beginning of the 20th century, where the only two protagonists – a veteran lighthouse keeper (Willem Dafoe) and a young assistant (Robert Pattinson) – must live together for four weeks. The introspective character of both and their cautious attitude marks a restful beginning in which, little by little, a sinister aura takes shape that drinks from the mythology of the stories of sailors. The light from the lighthouse looms as a possible esoteric force; the fauna of the place reveals a hostile character (a touch of esotericism that refers to the imaginary of Edgar Allan Poe); the old lighthouse keeper’s fondness for alcohol makes him a filthy version of Captain Ahab from ‘Moby Dick’; while the nightmares of the young assistant appear populated by sensual sea creatures.

From this disturbing narrative breeding ground, an indomitable film emerges that lurches towards the most varied directions. ‘The Lighthouse’ is structured around the relationship of power and domination that is established between the two protagonists, a link that, with the passing of the days, is decanting towards the terrain of brutality. However, in parallel to this growing tension, the characters experience priceless moments of complicity thanks, to a large extent, to the effect of alcohol. The group ends up outlining an extremely volatile relational environment, whose transitions from rivalry to twinning (and vice versa) make one think of John Cassavetes’s ‘Husbands’. In parallel, the isolation in which the protagonists live will generate a certain sexual tension of a tanatic nature –touched by the desire for death–, while the progressive revelation of secrets will load the consciences of the lighthouse keepers with guilt. A psychological odyssey that, filmed in a square format and in a wide range of grays, ends up plunging into the darkest pit of madness, as dictated by a staging heir to German expressionist cinema.

Duration: 109 min


IMDb: 7.5