‘The Lighthouse’ Ignites Cannes, Along With Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe Oscar Talk

IndieWire | 5/20/2019 | Staff
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It’s no surprise that psycho-thriller “The Lighthouse,” Robert Eggers’ dazzling follow-up to art-horror smash “The Witch,” should play well for Americans at Cannes. But it also played well on Sunday for two sets of turnaway international crowds who had to line up hours early to get into the Directors’ Fortnight entry, which could win a prize.

Rob Pattinson and Willem Dafoe go toe-to-toe in Eggers’ claustrophobic, Herman Melville-inspired two-hander, shot with black-and-white 35mm film and in Academy ratio. Filmed in stormy weather in Nova Scotia, the Quinzaine entry should yield another arthouse hit for A24. Their eventual date will reveal something about the distributor’s awards plans.

Lighthouse - Something - Hybrid - Quinzaine - Cannes

“The Lighthouse” is something of a hybrid, which may be why it wound up in the Quinzaine, which is a strong Cannes platform for edgy indie fare like “The Florida Project,” among many other films, as opposed to the main Competition. Neither total horror (with attendant chills and thrills) nor deeply pensive drama, it’s about tour-de-force acting and brilliantly percussive period mise-en-scene executed at a high level. Academy voters could respond to the period detail and the bravura performances.

“The Lighthouse”

Pattinson - Film - Veteran - Willem - Dafoe

Both Pattinson, who continues to grow with every film, and veteran Willem Dafoe, who’s on a roll these days, are brilliant as they navigate Eggers’ tricky Melville-inspired dialogue (“Moby Dick” was a source, along with period lighthouse diaries). Both are arguably leads.

I ran into Dafoe and Pattinson on the roof of the Marriott Hotel as they posed for photos. Both actors chase the arthouse directors they want to work with, which is why they wind up in Cannes so often. Dafoe approached Eggers to tell him how much he admired “The Witch,” and the actor also stars in a second Cannes title, “Tommaso,” from director Abel Ferrara. Dafoe starred in David Lynch’s Palme d’Or-winning “Wild at Heart”...
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