After setting fire to the cinematographic world with a horror film of prestige of the seventeenth century, mainly in a language of the time, The witch director Robert Eggers did not intend to take the easy thing the second time. For his second year effort, Lighthouse, the American filmmaker created a nineteenth-century drama shot in black and white and presented in a ratio of 1.19: 1, which corresponds to a square. And his story is centered on two men only to watch a lighthouse on an island off the coast of New England. The 35-year-old director must understand that challenges often bring out the best in us.
The editing itself is a bit simple. Ephram (Robert Pattinson) and Thomas (Willem Dafoe) arrive at their post for what should be a four-week work assignment. Thomas is a long time veteran and at this concert, Ephram's boss. This is the first lighthouse duty for Ephram and he soon discovers that Thomas is going to stand him. Ephram is given subaltern tasks such as reloading the charcoal fire using the almost constant fog horn, feeding the tower's long staircase and general maintenance of the island. Ephram is then replacing simple roofs, painting the tower and cleaning the floors, but that never seems to meet Thomas's standards. If this is not frustrating enough for the young guardian, Thomas strictly forbids him to manipulate the lighthouse itself, although the company's protocol orders them to alternate watch functions.
Ephram is also immediately disgusted by the personal hygiene of his new roommate. Thomas is constantly farting and scolds him for the responsibility of removing his disgusting pelvis. And it turns out that the senior guard's kitchen is not so good either. And yet, Thomas only hopes to be able to bear it and the two men are slowly forced to get to know each other better because, frankly, there is no one else to talk to.
In the context of Thomas continually pushing the buttons of Ephram, he begins to experience strange experiences. When he arrived, he found in his bed a little idol in the shape of a siren. He later learns that Thomas's last partner went crazy and died thinking that he had fallen in love with such a fantastic creature. But Ephram starts to see strange things. One night he sneaks up to the tower and imagines those tentacles in the room with Thomas. Another day, he is convinced that he saw a mermaid wash on the shore. When she wakes up and yells at him, he runs away panicked. And then there are the seagulls that apparently harass Ephram daily. Is all this real or does Ephram's spirit play tricks on him under all the unexpected stresses? Eggers lets you think about the possibilities until the end.
Even more than The witchEggers' latest effort is a dramatic first with minor elements of the genre coming in here and there with mixed results. When a major storm lasts, the observers stay indefinitely and the two men are unleashed, revealing the truth about Ephram's past. There are incredible scenes with Pattinson and Dafoe coming up, which raise the stakes for their two characters and reflect the narrative sense of the film when it desperately needs it. These are two characters essentially stuck on an island and the boundaries of social etiquette break down quickly to produce a dramatic effect.
Pattinson apparently works at the peak of his acting prowess over the past two years in such films as Good time and High lifebut he may have reached the top. Usually known for playing the loud and silent type, Pattinson portrays with deep frustration sown below the surface until he slowly reaches a passionate roar. The 33-year-old actor has just never been so raw to the screen before. There are times when Pattinson is so transforming that it's shocking. You just have never thought that he had it in him.
Dafoe is also superb playing Thomas as he channeled captain Ahab from Moby Dick, but somehow avoiding the caricature (his style of speech is even mocked in the film). But under this pretended artifice, Dafoe subtly adds surprising layers to an old man who thinks he is a master manipulator. And when everything goes wrong, Dafoe lets the sound drop beautifully, so the audience sees it too.
The decisions of Eggers do not all work as he would have liked. A good part of the beginning of the film sees Thomas and Ephram arrive on the island in overcast weather. This haunts the beginning of the film and is unfortunately detrimental to Jarin Blaschke & # 39; s especially impressive cinematography. The photo is so dark for the first act that you often start to wish it to be in color (the black and white images add nothing to the story). The production, which was shot in Nova Scotia, must have been found in the best days towards the end of the shoot, as the images become considerably lighter.
Eggers also adds a hint of homoerotic tendencies between the two men which, frankly, the film does not need. These plans are so light that they require more responses than those given. Especially since they do not seem to have any connection with the arches of the characters. Why include them at all? But when you have two major players such as Pattinson and Dafoe who set fire to the screen, you can forgive a lot.
Grade: B +
Find all our reviews of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival below: