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The Lighthouse: An American myth

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Salt-crusted wood and flaky green metal, the lightest footprint of civilisation already ruined and retaken by the sea and sand of a lonely island off the coast of Maine. A pair of lighthouse keepers - one young and one old - disembark their vessel and prepare to spend a month together tending to a monolithic lighthouse.

Over this month, these men will lose their minds. The pieces are in play and director Robert Eggers will spend the next two hours crafting a horrifying and cerebral fable for a modern age.

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe carry every second of The Lighthouse in what is for all intents and purposes a two-man show. Thomas Wake, in a performance by Dafoe that seems to bring hot and hellish colour to Eggers' black-and-white picture, watches over Pattinson's mysterious Ephraim Winslow like the wizened octopus watches over the lonely fish. These two men have only each other on this desolate rock, each their only friend and only threat.

The Lighthouse is slow-burning madness, the kind that creeps up on you and runs cold hands through your hair, as you watch these two men fall into the holes where their minds and hearts used to be. The bleak monochrome of Jarin Blaschke's cinematography darkens every fold of these two faces, blackening every vein and wrinkle and eroding them into weathered mastheads.

This is a twisted vision of madness at sea unlike anything you will watch for a long while, a wholeheartedly committed and truly unique artistic vision that exists far beyond the trappings of genre. Eggers again proves himself, as he did with 2015's The VVitch, as an up-and-coming mastermind of dread.

Delirious, horrifying and erotic in spades - but there is enchantment in the light.

Next article in issue 144

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