Although there are already a lot of serious contenders making their presence known for Best Picture this year — The Irishman and The Banker are two drumming up buzz — a strange tale about a lighthouse has also been trending. Starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse centers on two men who find themselves charged with taking care of a lighthouse off the coast of Maine.
There are many unusual details about this film, but the fact that it’s in black and white is one of the most obvious. The filmmakers deliberately decided to use a haunting type of black and white — more based in blues — that calls to mind the horror films from a century ago. And the performances of the two men at the center of it all are truly astonishing. Robert Pattinson’s turn as Efraim Winslow, a man whose identity is in question, is exceptionally haunting. Although many know Pattinson primarily from his role in the Twilight franchise, this performance may cause audiences to see him in an entirely new light. His character’s tormented scenes and subsequent descent into madness are truly a sight to behold.
Willem Dafoe has also been mentioned as a possible awards contender. His electrifying performance as Thomas Wake has been hailed as one of the year’s very best. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a lot of the chatter has been about Dafoe’s accent in the film. While Pattinson’s character possesses a Maine accent, Dafoe’s off-kilter pirate voice is perhaps one of the most telling aspects of the film. Supposedly, Dafoe modeled the accent off of Robert Newton, an popular character actor from the 1950s. It was Newton who established what we would now call the characteristic pirate voice that has been copied by so many other actors. Since he hailed from Dorset in the United Kingdom, it’s safe to assume that Dafoe’s character may have also originated from the area – or is it? As the film begins to unravel, the audience is presented with the possibility that perhaps Wake is not who he initially claimed to be. His obsession with the light at the top of the lighthouse is perhaps the first clue that he is another creature entirely. Whatever the case may be, it makes for one of the year’s most engaging films.