Robert Eggers, USA/Canada, 2019
Two lighthouse keepers brooding on a wet and gloomy rock in 1890 Maine. Clearly, this is not a happy rainbows and unicorns film. I see what it was trying to do – create a kind of American gothic Moby Dick existential horror: who’s mad? who’s lying? what does the light mean? is the god of the sea angry? is the older man the god of the sea? – but somehow it just didn’t work for me.
I found the 4:3 square format (everyone’s using it these days) annoying here, and actually wanted to see big, wide sweeping shots of the churning sea and the stark, muddy rock they live on. Sadly, the dialogue is often incomprehensible, and I found myself referring to the Spanish subtitles! Which is a shame, as a lot of it was taken from literature of the time, apparently.
Willem Defoe is occasionally a bit of a parody of a salty old sea dog, though the role (and the beard) suit him. Robert Pattinson is great, but just not quite grizzled enough for this role, I thought. And the weirdness and psychological horror are too random and too heavy handed. And then suddenly, there’d be a bit of almost slapstick humour!
It’s like the film wasn’t quite sure what it wanted to be. We didn’t get deep enough with the characters for it to be proper psychological horror, to really get to know them or understand them. There are too many references to various other works – literature and films – and too many threads, so it all gets a bit confused and confusing. I didn’t like the use of music either. It was a bit obvious.
The gulls were really good, though!