Film of the Week 30.10.20.

This being the season of Ghost stories and horror films I have been watching one that may or may not be a candidate-The Lighthouse-directed by Robert Eggers to a script co-written with his brother Max. It is filmed in black and white using camera lenses and the old square frame to emulate 19th century photography and enhance the claustrophobic isolation of a lighthouse on a bleak storm lashed island.

There are just two main characters played by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as a lighthouse keeper and his temporary assistant. Over a period of four weeks their personalities and secrets are revealed as they implode into madness. The performances by the two actors are terrific with Pattinson revealing a depth of character acting I had never credited him with. For Dafoe this is the defining role of his career as the deranged Tom Wake wedded to his role as chief keeper and the light that he alone cares for more than any wife.

Pattinson is Ephraim Winslow brutally treated by Wake and harboring a dark secret. Both men surrender to delusions and it is this that makes the film a compulsive enigma. What is real or imagined in this blend of melancholy, homoeroticism and violence. The award- winning photography, dramatic music score and the ever presence of the cruel sea draw you into this gladiatorial battle of wills and will leave you to argue over the outcome.

The Lighthouse is on Sky Movies and Amazon Prime.

 

Bill Cunningham