Connor Watkins’s review published on Letterboxd:
The Lighthouse. This film is an experience from the first frame to the last. I knew it was going to be amazing, but it still managed to go further than I thought it would and be different in its events than I figured it would be. Eggers takes his viewers on an absolute ride into insanity through this unique cinematic treat.
Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson both deserve Oscar nominations and awards. If enough people get to see this film, then I think both of them and Robert Eggers are going to clean up a few categories. We’ll see about that... Anyway, both of these men gave the performances of their lives, and that’s saying a lot for Dafoe. Each of them felt like they had been these characters all of their lives. They felt so natural and they gave everything. That’s all I can say.
The aspect ratio and black and white look really worked for the film. I’ve seen other films take these characteristics on, but here any sense that this was “different” from the average film were stripped away. It felt so natural and needed, reflecting the mood and period of the film incredibly. The cinematography was amazing too and every shot felt purposeful and concise. The film has many short shots that capture so seamlessly what is going on under the surface or give us an impression that colors other scenes surrounding it. Many of the trippy sequences of the film are to-die-for as well, and, of course, the main action of the film looks fantastic and leaves images imprinted in your mind. I was in awe, truly, at nearly everything I saw. Never has black and white looked so alive and vibrant. In addition, the sound design also is a sleeper hit of the film. Many of the reoccurring sounds and motifs that come back around are wild and wonderfully affect the film's aura.
The real star of the film though was the brilliant writing! I mean, wow, what a screenplay! The way this film’s story and emotions unfold are unmatched and felt so natural and exciting, all while being nuance and perfectly controlled with each bit of information or character development we get. Not a flawed moment. And the dialogue! Everything felt fresh and unique and quotable. I loved the period and role-specific language Eggers used and the actors work to make everything jump out and be even more brilliant. There is so much to love, and there’s even a good bit of black comedy in this. There’s truly something for everyone, and the film manages to pack a psychological punch all while making you laugh and find yourself, somehow, in the characters' wild ride to insanity and seclusion.
Thematically, isolation and insanity are up front in this, and they are explored and dramatized with a wonderful dread and terror. You really get a full look at insanity and what isolation, loneliness, and unknowing can do to a man, especially when myth gets involved. Greek mythology and sailor mythos make a big appearance, and all for the better. Power dynamics and ethics are on display throughout. There is also a lot of sexuality going on in this that is interesting to think about and explore. I won't go further than that, however. There's so much to think about and contemplate. So much imagery and thematic conversation with the film's inspirations.
The Lighthouse strikes the right balance between clarity and mystery, and it keeps you on your toes throughout all while giving you a sense of suspension that lets you sink into each scene. I could go back and experience it all again and again and am definitely ready for the DVD release. I’m still thinking rampantly about this and am haunted beautifully by the imagery of this film. There are so many bleak and mystifying and incredible visuals that are must-see. This is what we need right now in cinema. I feel bad for watching so many amazing new films lately, but this is what I live for. I wish I could spoil it all for you and go more in depth, but you have to see it for yourself. A masterpiece and modern classic in the making. 10/10 easily.
P.S. I happened to see this with captions, and that was a Godsend.