There has never been a better time than now to bring back the timeless structure of ghost-story cinema. It is rare that a piece of filmmaking revolutionizes narrative imagery like Robert Eggers has in his past two pictures. “The Lighthouse” takes this progress in art filmmaking massive steps further and awards an expectant audience handsomely. There has never been a better time than now to bring back the timeless structure of ghost-story cinema.
The aspect ratio shot in 1.91:1 on 35mm film is uniquely successful, though I hope it doesn’t become a trend in A24 distributed movies. It is a cinematographic art that the world thought time could kill. The tight framing leaves little room for spatial discovery from the actors. The anti-cinematic look hurries the brain into burning images from this movie deep into the subconscious. Every second becomes an unforgettable painting, truly aided by the use of greyscale.
The movie wouldn’t be an ounce of what it is, however, without the revolutionary performances from both Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. Pattinson makes new marks in his career with the expert range of emotion expressed in such great value throughout. There is no question that Pattinson has made something career-defining here. Arguably, Dafoe has achieved the same marks. His range is incredible, and his acting has been celebrated for years. This performance in particular has put Dafoe in a high place, and I would without a doubt consider him one of the best actors to ever live. His movement is hauntingly precise and his delivery of the written material feels incredibly natural. The many monologues he gives through the duration of the movie are masterful and can easily shake an unsuspecting audience member.
The production design is beautiful and accurately reminiscent of movies from the 1940s. Every piece of the set is beautifully crafted, and the way the actors live within it make it feel real. The writing is clearly of expert craft. The director Robert and his brother Max Eggers made this together. Its folk inspiration makes the story inherently captivating. Despite its serious tone, comedy is welcome. Fart jokes pervade, lightening the dark atmosphere when the audience need it most. The movie is long but the pacing is well done and is always interesting. So many things fall perfectly into place for this movie, and have made it one of the best films of 2019, perhaps the decade.
“The Lighthouse” is the arthouse horror flick the 2010s deserve. Among greats like Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” and Aster’s “Hereditary,” this movie describes an upward trend in elevated horror that needs a true revival. “The Lighthouse” stands with classics of supernatural storytelling like Kubrick’s “The Shining” and Kobayashi’s “Kwaidan.” This is a film I hope to see in Oscar runnings for original screenplay, sound mixing, and maybe (though unlikely) even best picture. Dafoe especially deserves an Oscar after being overlooked for deserving nominated performances the past two years. I hope everyone will get a chance to see this movie. I rate “The Lighthouse” a 4.5 out of 5.
Photo courtesy of: www.imdb.com/title/tt7984734/