I'd already gathered that watching this was going to be quite a severe test, but on discovering just how deeply unpleasant it turned out to be, I now wish I'd given it a miss.
I could have done without seeing yet another film which ranks almost down there with a particular one I saw last July (one which I refuse to name again), one which had got so far under my skin right down to the bone, haunting my mind every single day since then (no exaggeration!). If 'The Lighthouse' doesn't go quite as deep as that it's certainly not far from it.
Shot in black and white, in almost square-screen ratio, it's a virtual two-actor piece - there are a few very brief shots of a third, which I shan't give away.
Robert Pattinson is the younger of a pair of lighthouse keepers necessarily stranded in each other's company off the New England coast (shot actually in Nova Scotia) at the end of the 19th century (I hadn't picked up that it was set as far back as that) and his freely-farting senior companion, the experienced and wizenedly bearded Willem Dafoe, You might guess that their close proximity for most of every day drives each of them to near madness, getting on each other's nerves, the latter ordering the other about while the younger is forced to obey albeit with seething reluctance.
There's hardly any let-up in the tension between the two, only a few lighter moments when they get drunk a couple of times though these moments don't last, always quickly descending into not mere squabbling but actual fist-fights, and worse. The film's final confrontation found me acutely dismayed, near sickened, at the happenings.
There are bloody scenes - including an especially horrific killing of a seagull whose ever-returning presence so maddened one of the men that he totally loses it. I had to avert my eyes at the playing out of this episode. Hideous.
Since the beginning of cinema there have always been the depiction of moments of horror which turn out to be merely a dream or the product of a fevered imagination, and this film contains a number of them. Once one knows what to expect it rather drains the tension and one waits for the inevitable explanation/resolution.
I suppose it's something of which one becomes increasingly aware the more films one sees. It's a bit of a tired technique, though.
This is only director Robert Eggers' second full-length feature as director, he also being its co-writer, and I must say he delivers exactly what the story demands - tension by the bucketload with virtually no interludes of light relief, all shot in appropriate mentally-claustrophobic manner. (I gave his previous cinema feature, 'The Witch' of 2015, a rating of 3/10). As you'd expect, much of the 'action' such as it is, is set against a background of wild seas, winds, pelting rain and storms. It demands no less and t's all here.
I feel it's a film most to be appreciated if one has the 'cushion' of being in a buoyant mood when viewed. I was, in the circumstances, not in that frame of mind and was perfect material to be dragged down further to a most uncomfortable place. However, if you want something gritty to get your teeth into, and feel that seeing unpleasant happenings such as are portrayed here is merely something you can easily shrug off, then this may well be for you.
I rate this film, not in terms of my 'enjoyment' (virtually non-existent!) but on the professionalism and success in delivering what it set out to do. Thus.............7.
(IMDb...............7.7 - Rott, Toms..............3.8/5 )
2 hours ago