I decided to see this film because I have been a long-time fan of Robert Pattinson. Recently, his resume has shown his complete range of emotions and the strange ability he has to transform as an actor. I was not disappointed after watching this film.
As soon as the lights went dark, all colour ran away and the screen shrunk to a square. From then on, we were fed landscape shots of the rock island intermittently as the film centred around two lighthouse keepers on the edge of insanity. The director of photography succeeded in bringing a mystery to this island by rotating shots at 90 degree angles. I never felt like the shots were off balance even though they were not placed at a regular human’s eyesight. My favourite shot was of Robert Pattinson’s character putting coal in the furnace. The audience was given the angle of underneath the shovel but shifted sideways so that I wasn’t sure if the coal was being shovelled in or shovelled out. As soon as I was comfortable with it, they cut to the next scene. I found a lot with this film that when I finally figured out what I was looking at or what the shading of the setting was, I had to let go of it and move on to the next scene. Fast-paced but with just enough time for comprehension. A thrill ride.
What I observed of Robert was this: he found a work ethic in his character; one that could be meaningful and stable, especially at the beginning. The character picked up a duty with pride and finished it with a sense that the next job would be a bigger challenge to face. That kind of exhibition was portrayed in his silent posture. He was the assistant. When he finally broke out at the climax of his character development, I shivered with discomfort in such a pleasing way. I consumed his performance with hesitation and that, to me, is the correct way to play someone going mad. I never wanted to look away yet he caused me to pull back. Rob toyed with the audience member’s stomach. Making me feel sick and satisfied at the same time.
I smiled when the final shot of him being eaten out by seagulls came on screen. Spoilers! Sorry!
Willem also exuded a disappearing act as the bossy-yet-peaceful sailor. His old English accent alone was enough to make me believe him. I watched to see how he contrasted against Robert’s choices and the pair were as smooth as peanut butter as they delivered some extremely crazy lines.
That’s the thing about tackling madness in a character: how much is too much? Because if you choose to play it slow and little, the audience may not deem the character as insane. Yet, if you dive into an intensity that feels over-done, it becomes unbelievable. I enjoyed watching Rob and Willem play with the extremities of this.