Tag: Robert Pattinson


Review: The Lighthouse [London Film Festival]

October 10, 2019
The Lighthouse

How long ago was it that you saw a great black and white film? A few days, weeks, months or is it that long ago that you forget it? Well, if there’s one black-white movie you will remember forever, it’s The Lighthouse from director Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Tell-Tale Heart). Together with co-writer Max Eggers, he wrote a very compelling story that is being turned into a masterpiece by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson.

Follow the light

Thomas Wake (Dafoe) and Ephraim Winslow (Pattinson) are two lighthouse keepers who are being sent to a remote island. They will live there for only a few weeks but that will be much harder than they think. While both of them are lighthouse keepers, it’s Wake who’s clearly in charge of the lighthouse. Instead of being Wake’s prodigy, Winslow seems to be his slave. He needs to get the food in the pouring rain and heavy wind and needs to clean up the mess. At first, he’s fine with doing all these chores but it doesn’t take long before that feeling changes.

Living together 24/7 in a very small place is putting pressure on both men. Winslow is getting more agitated about his work, wants to operate the lighthouse and wants a woman he can love instead of living with an “old man”. Wake, on the other hand, is getting more annoyed by Winslow his behaviour and finds him very ungrateful. Deep down he wants someone who takes care of him and who appreciates the things he does. How long will it be before the men are getting at each other throats?

Perfectly crafted film

Since winning the FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival where the film got its world premiere, The Lighthouse is creating an Oscar buzz. One or multiple Academy Awards would be well-deserved as this movie is an outstanding one for many reasons.

This film was shot on 35mm and in the Academy ratio and it’s so liberating to see a modern film like that. These days we get to see revivals from more older films shot 33mm and so it’s great to see that director Eggers decided to honour that unique way of shooting in a more recent movie. If this would have been shot in colour, it would certainly have not the same effect. The Lighthouse is visually perfect and it fits the story impeccably well.

A big part of the movie is without a doubt the sound, especially at the beginning when there are not a lot of conversations. Whether the loud honks are imitating the sound of the boats passing by or just to create the right atmosphere of this film, they do the trick. It gives The Lighthouse a very special horror vibe but at the same time, the film also becomes a drama and psychological thriller. It transcends genres, that’s for sure.  

The writing process for this film must have a very interesting one. There’s not much dialogue going on in this movie. Most of the conversations are either monologues of the two men following each other up or some drunk debates. Sometimes they don’t make any sense, especially when they come from Wake who’s suffering from loneliness, but they will leave you breathless.

Dafoe and Pattinson outdo themselves

These are monologues that are being brought perfectly by both Dafoe and Pattinson. What Pattinson (High Life, The Lost City of Z) didn’t have in The King, he has now in bucket loads in The Lighthouse. Charisma, the power to drawn people to the screen and to the ability to put on a spot-on performance. From someone who shows respect and loyalty at first to a broken man who doesn’t let someone walking over him. Pattinson allows us to sympathise with his character who has to endure a hard time. His performance reminds us of the one he put on in Good Time.

What about Dafoe (The Florida Project, At Eternity’s Gate)? Well, he’s just superb as the drunken, unstable and confused lighthouse keeper who has lost the grip on reality. The hangover scenes between the two men are just gold and bring a fun element to this film.

The Lighthouse guides you to the cinema

If there’s a movie you have to see on the big screen, it’s this one. After making the brilliant The Witch, director Eggers pulls it off again. The incredibly dark and hypnotic The Lighthouse will blow you away with its smashing cinematography and intense score and is an impressive two men act from Pattinson and Dafoe. Catch it while you can during the BFI Film Festival on Friday the 11th of October or Sunday the 13th. If you can’t make it, then you’re going to have to wait until the beginning of next year. Not sure if you want to wait that long… 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

(This review was written as part of Big Picture Film Club’s coverage of the BFI London Film Festival 2019)

The Lighthouse (Official Trailer)

Also Read: The Unlikely Success of A24

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Review: Waiting for the Barbarians

September 28, 2019

Last year, director Ciro Guerra (Embrace of the Serpent, The Wind Journeys) made furore with his Birds of Passage (original title: Pájaros de Verano) and won nineteen prestigious awards with it. Pretty sure that his newest film Waiting for the Barbarians, which is also his first English-language feature, will receive the same success. Not only because of the superb performance of Mark Rylance but also because he created a visually attractive, emotionally and stunningly crafted movie.

The compassionate Magistrate versus the frigid colonel

The unnamed Magistrate (Mark Rylance), who’s working in a distant outpost near the frontier, is living a humble and down to earth life. There’s not much going on his village and so he enjoys his spare time by doing some writing. However, that peace is disturbed by the arrival of colonel Joll (Johnny Depp). Despite the Magistrate good intentions, the colonel has everything but that. No interrogation tactic is too cruel for him to make sure that every Barbarian is serving ‘justice’. After concluding that Barbarian people are indeed savages, the colonel decides he has seen enough for now and says goodbye to the village.

The colonel might be gone but the troubles are still present for the magistrate. After encountering a homeless (and Barbarian) girl (Gana Bayarsaikhan) in his village, he decides to take her in. Not only because he’s good to everyone but also because she had to endure a hard time by the hands of the colonel. She seems a closed book at first but after opening up to the Magistrate about herself, her family and her future, he wants a future with her. Sadly, she wants to return to her family. Even though it would be against his people their beliefs, the Magistrate decides to help her to get back to the Barbarians. However, both his town as well as the colonel see this as treason. What will await him when he returns home?

Mark Rylance outclasses everyone

If this story sounds familiar, then you’ve probably read the novel by the South African-born writer J. M. Coetzee. His work was the inspiration for this film. Just like the book by Coetzee itself, this movie has many great things to offer.

One of them is the strong performance of Rylance (Dunkirk, Ready Player One). We haven’t seen a lot of actors who can play such a modest, honest and poignant role as he does in such an outstanding way. To some, it might seem that he’s underplaying it but that’s where his brilliance comes in. Big emotions subtlety performed. Who’s absolutely not subtle is colonel Joll, played by Depp (City of Lies, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) in a dark and mysterious way. His character is the opposite of Rylance’s. A cold-blooded and cruel colonel who only wants it his way. While we don’t see much emotions of Depp, due to the nature of the colonel, he still puts on a convincing display.

He’s another of those big names attached to this film but it takes a long while before we see a glimpse of Robert Pattinson (The Lighthouse, High Life). While we, from the bottom of our hearts, want to believe the powerful traits of his officer Mandel, it’s hard to do that. Not only because of Pattinson’s laughter but also because he lacks a little bit of charisma in this movie. His performance might have its flaws but it was still very enjoyable to watch. The female touch and emotions are provided by Gana Bayarsaikhan (Wonder Woman, Ex Machina). She brings an even more vulnerable and touching vibe to this movie which certainly balances out the masculinity in this film.

Congratulations to the entire crew!

The production crew behind Waiting for the Barbarians (source: IMDB)

Despite the performances being on point, they’re not elements that stand out in this film. No, it‘s clear that the teams behind the camera are the ones that excel in this film. There’s no doubt in our minds that the members of the makeup department are really the ones that brought this film to life. The gashing wounds, the painful injuries or the deep cuts. With that in mind, we want to say that this movie isn’t for the light-hearted. We also certainly want to applaud cinematographer Chris Menges and location manager Youssef Abagourram. They were able to bring together beautiful, eye-catching and diverse landscapes, which light up the big screen in a gorgeous way. You have to stay until the very end to see one of the most beautiful made scenes in this movie.

Captivating, intriguing and splendid movie led by Mark Rylance

Waiting for the Barbarians is divided into four different segments, which represent the four seasons. They all have delightful stories to tell, stories you need to see and hear. Want to catch this captivating, intriguing and splendidly made film that included a dazzling performance from Rylance? Well, then you’re in luck. This movie will be screened at the BFI Film Festival London on Sunday the 6th, Monday the 7th and Wednesday the 8th of October.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

(This review was written as part of Big Picture Film Club’s coverage of the BFI London Film Festival 2019)

Waiting for the Barbarians (Teaser Clip)

Also Read: Ad Astra (Review)

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