Drama Fantasy

At the Shores of Madness: A TIFF Review of ‘The Lighthouse’

September 7, 2019Ben MK

With a mere two features under his belt, director Robert Eggers has quickly established himself as a filmmaker with a bold artistic vision. But if 2015's The Witch offered but a taste of his unique aesthetic, then Eggers' latest serves as a full-on immersion into his world — one inspired by the early days of cinema and centuries-old seafaring folklore.

Starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse tells the tale of a pair of lighthouse keepers who arrive on a remote New England island in the 1890s for a four-week shift. Thomas Wake (Dafoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Pattinson) aren't particularly fond of one another from the outset, and they do their best to make their time together amicable, but when an ill-timed storm leaves them stranded, the pair find themselves at each other's throats. Dogged by personal demons and strange visions, Ephraim soon begins to question his own sanity. And as the hope of ever making it off the island dwindles, so too do the men’s prospects of escaping from the downward spiral into madness that the sea seems to have set them on.

Shot entirely in haunting black and white and accompanied by an unsettling soundtrack, the result is a classic cinematic two-hander so firmly anchored in its own conviction, it's practically as if Eggers and company traveled back in time and returned with a film to shine a light straight into the depths of moviegoers' souls.

The Lighthouse makes its North American premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 49 min.

You May Also Like