The Lighthouse

Robert Eggers, the man who gave us The Witch, a gesture for which I’m eternally grateful, returns with this trippy, gothic sailor’s yarn about two very strange men (Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe) working a difficult shift in a lighthouse in the late nineteenth century. It’s close quarters for the two, with every fart heard loud and clear, and every glitch in each other’s personalities grating on the sensibilities. As the trippy drama plays out, paranoia degrades into delusional mania, then straight on into psychopathic actions (or not, depending upon whether or not you view the whole thing as a fucked-up dream). Shot in black-and-white with a scope that reminds of old silent movies, the two actors start in a truly intense place, and they ratchet it up from there. Dafoe is all strains of incredible as the weathered sailor restricted to land duty, and possibly in the game of driving his employees crazy, one right after the other. Pattinson matches him every step of the way, with a performance reminiscent of early Brando. That’s right, I just compared him to Brando. Eggers is two films in, and this guy can direct with the best of them. Both of his films are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The man is a true original, and these actors take the chance to work with him to the hallucinatory stars. I’m still not entirely sure what happened, but I know it disturbed the living piss out of me, and it contains two of the year’s best performances.