The Lighthouse. 2019. Canada/USA. Directed by Robert Eggers. Screenplay by Robert Eggers, Max Eggers. With Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe. 110 min.
Announced with a sonorous bellow from a 19th-century foghorn, Ephraim Winslow (Pattinson) takes his post as a rookie keeper in a remote lighthouse on the vast open shoreline of New England. His fellow keeper, Thomas Wake (Dafoe), is a fierce, flatulent elder who reluctantly takes him under his wing. Their relationship ferments in the gloomy isolation, punctuated by sudden outbursts of rage, tenderness, and revelation (or, in Dafoe’s words, “spilling yer beans”). Days bleed into weeks, weeks bleed into months, and time loses its tactility altogether as a hundred-year gale encroaches and cuts them off from their supplies, their relief, and their reality. The storm brings a host of seafaring tropes that re-emerge in increasingly illusory ways: mermaids, krakens, fever dreams, and brine…lots of brine. Shot on sensuous black-and-white film and accompanied by a resonant, thunderous soundscape, Eggers’s hellish vision of male psychosexual sport drips and oozes off the frame like the foamy sea that’s soaked the brains of men. Courtesy A24.