Now Playing at the Savoy Theater
Sometimes I blame Steve Jobs for getting me addicted to my iPhone and my iPad.
But when I am laying in bed or lounging on the couch, I thank him. As bad as addiction is, it is still better than boredom.
People born in the 21st Century don’t really know what boredom is. To them, boredom is that brutal 15 seconds that they have to wait while the app they are using goes through a mandatory software update.
The older you are, the more you remember how terrible boredom can be. It’s frustrating, miserable, even maddening. That’s why extended Solitary Confinement is the most tortuous punishment, far more dreaded than the death penalty.
“The Lighthouse” is a unique, unapologetically artsy film about a man going mad from boredom.
The story begins on a rocky little island off the New England coast in the late 1800s. A journeyman laborer named Winslow (Robert “TeamEdward4Life” Pattinson) has taken a one-month job as assistant Lighthouse Keeper.
It’s going to be a rough month. The head Lighthouse Keeper Thomas (Willem Dafoe) is a ridiculous, flatulent man. He talks like an old sea captain, he barks orders like a deranged drill sergeant, and he is quite insistent that only he can use the lighthouse lantern.
We see Winslow trudge through every boring day in black and white. He carts coal to the foghorn. He lugs kerosene up to the lighthouse. He has a torrid affair with a screeching mermaid. He’s starting to lose his mind.
When the boat that is supposed to relieve them from their duties never shows, the film starts to get intense and amazing. Maybe this isn’t just a boring job; maybe it is purgatory. Winslow feels suffocated and we feel it too.
Winslow gives in and starts drinking rum with Thomas because there is nothing else to do. By night they chat and sing and laugh and bond. By day, Winslow is increasingly distrustful of his eccentric boss.
Willem Dafoe’s character is a fascinating mystery. Does he have a crush on Winslow? Is he trying to make Winslow go mad? Is he Poseidon? Is he a passionate follower of Poseidon who possesses some of the sea god’s lesser powers? These are all real possibilities. But he’ll definitely never reveal the truth.
Neither will writer/director Robert Eggers. It is impossible to know how much of what happens to Winslow is supernatural. And how much of it is just a desperately bored young man marching inexorably toward oblivion.
As for me: I’m embarrassed about how addicted I am to my iPhone and my iPad. At least I’ll never go crazy from boredom, though. I don’t want to date an imaginary mermaid or have a fistfight with Poseidon.