‘The Lighthouse’ Illuminates Cannes with Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe Oscar Talk
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe go head-to-head in Robert Eggers’ claustrophobic, Melville-esque film ‘The Lighthouse,’ shot in 35mm black-and-white and in Academy ratio. Sometime down the road, the Quinzaine entry should yield another arthouse hit for distributor A24 as not only has the film garnered critical praise, but both actors are already getting thrown into award conversations.
The plot for ‘The Lighthouse’ is … unique … and perhaps a bridge too far if it weren’t for the talent involved. Two strangers are stranded on a storm-ravaged rocky island; the older lighthouse keeper bullies his intrepid new assistant, whose only relief from his daily back-breaking labor of hauling and shoveling coal, plumbing the cistern, and being pecked by a pesky seagull is pleasuring himself while fantasizing about a luscious mermaid.
At the question and answer session following the film’s first screening, Eggers and his two stars admitted that the only way to pull off the movie was to rehearse intensely for a week, nail their respective period accents, and play off each other to get through the demanding archaic dialogue and physical performances.
“It takes a lot of planning,” Eggers said, “where the camera goes, rehearsals to plan everything, get the cinematic language of the film to be specific.”
“My character is quiet and button-upped,” said Pattinson. “It was nice to be in a pressure-cooker environment. It’s always easier to do a performance when you are in your body. It’s impossible to push a wheelbarrow. The more physical a part is, the easier to bring some realism to it. Because of the nature of the story we really push the physicality. There aren’t too many parts where you can let fly with your body without it feeling out of place. It was a joy to do it.”