The Lighthouse is a brooding, sinister black and white film with towering performances by the two protagonists, Robert Pattinson and William Dafoe.
Thomas Wake (Dafoe) is a grizzled old tar, the lighthouse keeper on a rugged windswept island off the New England coast.
Ephraim Winslow (Pattinson) is a young drifter with a past, who signs up for a four-week stint as Wake’s assistant.
The wind howls, the lighthouse foghorn blares, the seas crash on the rocky foreshore. Inside the confined living quarters the two strangers must share a bedroom, eat together, survive each other.
Set in the late 1800s, this is a gripping thriller scripted by director Robert Eggers and his brother Max, with Jarin Blaschke’s stark black and white cinematography emphasising a mounting feeling of horror.
Wake is a garrulous bully, goading the young Winslow as he orders him around.
Winslow is taciturn and withdrawn, saying little about his past except that he was a timberman.
“What’s a timberman want with bein’ a wicky,” probes Wake.
“Just lookin’ a’ earnin’ a livin’ – just like any man. Startin’ anew,” says Winslow.
“On the run, are ye?”
Soon the unlikely pair are joining in nightly drunken binges, belting out old sea shanties, dancing arm-in-arm around the table,
But always there is an underlying feeling of dread, of impending violence, which increases as a raging storm traps Winslow on the island when his four-week term is up.
The Lighthouse is screening at the Somerville Auditorium from Monday to Sunday, 13 – 19 January, as part of the Perth Festival LotteryWest film season.
Watch the trailer…