As the wavering cry of the foghorn fills the air, the taciturn former lumberjack, Ephraim Winslow, and the grizzled lighthouse keeper, Thomas Wake, set foot in a secluded and perpetually grey islet off the coast of late-19th-century New England. For the following four weeks of back-breaking work and unfavourable conditions, the tight-lipped men will have no one else for company except for each other, forced to endure irritating idiosyncrasies, bottled-up resentment, and burgeoning hatred. Then, amid bad omens, a furious and unending squall maroons the pale beacon's keepers in the already inhospitable volcanic rock, paving the way for a prolonged period of feral hunger; excruciating agony; manic isolation, and horrible booze-addled visions. Now, the eerie stranglehold of insanity tightens. Is there an escape from the wall-less prison of the mind?Written by
10 days before filming was due to start, production company New Regency tried to convince director Robert Eggers to shoot on wide screen because the film sets were "too beautiful" to not be shown on full scale. See more »
Should pale death with treble dread / make the ocean caves our bed, / God who hear'st the surges roll, / deign to save our suppliant soul.
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This is precisely the type of film that will garner equal amounts of unbridled praise by the arthouse diehards, as well as criticism (and likely rejection) from a lot of other viewers. My opinion lies somewhere in the middle. I give it 6 stars for the undeniably outstanding acting (obviously, Dafoe)... and Pattinson is very impressive. Something new, yes. Effective at mood-setting, check. The b&w filming, the shots, the scenery itself... even the set, the old dilapidated coastal shack, all excellent. The dynamic between the two characters is raw and real. Is it a thought-provoking free-fall into insanity? Maybe. But... there is a such a fine line between "arthouse", trying something different, leaving much up to subjectivity and imagination, and... just trying a bit too hard. Mermaid labia? Hmmm. But, if part of the definition of a cinematic "success" is evoking emotion, then mission accomplished. Total despair, pity, fear, disgust, and a general feeling of creepery, all there.
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