Irish Film Institute -THE LIGHTSHIP



89 minutes| U.S.A.| 1985| Colour

Although based on a Siegfried Lenz novel, this is essentially Key Largo as if written by Joseph Conrad. A captain of a U.S. Coast Guard Lightship (Klaus Maria Brandauer), who has been court-martialled ten years before for an act of alleged wartime cowardice, finds himself tested again when he rescues a drifting boat that turns out to contain three criminals on the run who hold his crew hostage. His situation is complicated by his conflict with his surly teenage son who despises him: might this be the opportunity for redemption? The drama is played out on the tethered boat and Skolimowski revels in the atmosphere of physical instability and dank claustrophobia as captain and chief gangster (Robert Duvall) lock psychological horns and the captain recognises in his enemy (in true Conrad fashion) elements of himself he would rather not see. The action might seem subdued but the acting certainly is not, with Duvall giving one of his most flamboyant performances.

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