During the second half of the 19th century, two of my ancestors in Santa Barbara served as lighthouse keepers of the town’s lighthouse. After her husband declined being reinstated, Julia Williams, my third great-grandmother took up the post… for the next forty years! Born and raised in New Brunswick, north of New England, there’s similarities between this unique part of my ancestry and Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse, a new film that observes the lives of two keepers for a month in New England.
Watch It: If you want to see superb craft of production design and cinematography, knockout acting performances, a haunting story, and have an affinity for psychological horrors.
Skip It: If you want to see a film in color and a run-of-the mill drama with a positive or heartwarming storyline, or a horror with much action or jump scares.
The Lighthouse left me with a sense of how great of a film this was that I had just watched, while somehow disturbing me enough to where I couldn’t say I “liked” it. By default, the storyline is enough to warrant many viewers from “liking” a film like this. Yet superb acting (easily some of the best of the year) by Rob Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, chilling sound effects and musical score, some of the year’s best technical skill, and a story (albeit ambivalent and sloppy at times) that increases the tension more and more are plenty for this guy to recommend The Lighthouse to those interested in psychological horrors or the movies that have come out of A24 Studios so far.
Zimm Score: 8/10
My second brief review is a look at Harriet, a biopic that covers the life of Harriet Tubman, abolitionist, activist, and one of the greatest icons in American history. Because of her stature and legacy, it’s unfortunate that a film covering Tubman was so mishandled in comparison to other films that have covered great, historical figures.
Watch It: If you want to see a great performance of the title character (played by Cynthia Erivo) and a basic run-through of what Tubman did, now on the big screen.
Skip It: If you want a moving musical score that compliments its story, fine acting from the supporting cast, polished dialogue, and an in-depth look at Tubman’s backstory and her involvement with the Underground Railroad.
As implied, Harriet fails to come close in the magnitude that Tubman had in real-life during the 19th century. I couldn’t help but be distracted by performances that were continually amateur and disappointing, music that played as if it didn’t know what kind of film or genre it was serving, and a script that was all too formulaic and cliched. I’m sorry, but there should never be hints of a Hallmark movie when making anything about someone on the level of a Harriet Tubman.
Zimm Score: 4.5/10