To say there is a lot to unpack with this film is putting it lightly, not just because Pattinson and Dafoe are speaking in thick accents and old-timey speech, but because there is so much going on here. Pattinson and Dafore both give award-worthy performances as Ephraim and Thomas respectively, with Dafore specifically deserving to be showered in all the gold for the work he does as the veteran wickie. Seriously though, Pattinson continues to deliver these great performances film after film (see: High Life and Good Time as recent examples) and Dafoe has been vastly underappreciated by the mainstream for years outside of his stellar turn as The Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. The Lighthouse is no different, with both men turning in some of the best, most unique work of their respective careers. The religious subtext surrounding the film’s plot is (a little) easier to pick up on with repeat viewing, as this seems be a story about a man trapped in hell or purgatory, atoning for his sins, though that could all be completely wrong and it could just be about two men going crazy on a remote island during a storm.
Eggers’ direction leaves little else to be desired as he shows his prowess as one of the fastest rising directors in cinema today. There are some great long takes here, but also some truly amazing shots that could serve as paintings in an art museum thanks to Eggers and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke (The VVitch). There is one image that has yet to leave my brain from the first time I saw this film, with it being (VERY MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD) Ephraim lying on the rocks as he stares upward at a naked Thomas, whose eyes are radiating the light from the actual lighthouse. Trust me, my description cannot do it justice and if you have seen the film, then you absolutely know what this is about.
From the first trailer released for The Lighthouse, I had my hopes that the music featured within said trailer would make it into the actual film. I was not disappointed. This is just a little aside, but it also serves as a way to mention the score which is delectably devilish throughout the entire length of the film, with the sea shanty Doodle Let Me Go (Yaller Girls) being the only other piece of music used in the film, in the men’s crazed, drunken singing and also over the end credits. Mark Korven is the composer for the score, and while it is not something that I would just want to listen to while driving or trying to sleep, it is very atmospheric in the most eerie way imaginable.