109 mins, USA-Canada, 2019, Digital, Black and White

This film was released on 31st January 2020, and is no longer screening.

Two 19th century lighthouse keepers, stationed on a remote, storm-blasted New England inlet, succumb to paranoia and madness in Robert Eggers’s (The Witch) intensely claustrophobic psychological thriller. Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) has taken a four-week post as an assistant to Tom Wake (Willem Dafoe), a grizzled, ornery old salt who runs his lighthouse with a confounding mix of brutal authoritarianism and drunken camaraderie. Tom is a harsh taskmaster, jealously guarding his precious light beacon, whilst tasking his resentful younger charge with relentless backbreaking labour. Eggers’s script, written with his brother in an antiquated seafaring vernacular, is a gift to Pattinson and Dafoe, and both actors give wholly committed performances.

(Notes by David O’Mahony.)

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