A confirmation of Eggers’ prodigious gifts and his auteur standing after the 2015 debut- The Witch
Hypnotically beautiful to look at (and listen to) but more than that really: distinctive, meticulous – I called The Witch curated and said that you could almost smell and feel the film—characterized it as method acting but from the director’s chair—and that praise and description certainly fits here for Eggers sophomore effort.
Eggers has a background in production design—rum, flatulence, the cutlery, the beards—every object in the frame, the choice of aspect ratio, the colloquial Herman Melville-like specific time/place vernacular—the jargon– these are all specific choices– all wet, dirty, dire, foul and authentic
The titular set piece (which of course they built for the film and it actually works) is symbolic of course, solitude and phallic—the spiral staircase and the light itself emblematic and striking
1.19 : 1 box-like aspect ratio and shot on 35mm. It’s a not to the silent film expressionism and the vice-like frame size is perfect for the confining nature of the world. Cabin fever and a descent into madness (feels like The Shining in that ways)
At its best some of the mise-en-scene and production design reminded me of the damp specifics of Tarkovky’s cabin in The Mirror or the black and white section prior to the “The Zone” in Stalker. Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse is another.
It’s a major feather in the cap for Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe—both capture the look, are as dedicated to the language and setting as Eggers is—and both are given flashy monologues- magnificent.
Like The Witch this is about a strained relationship (just two characters in this film along with some hallucinations and delusions and of course the domain Eggers creates) in isolation. Nuanced characters and complex relationship
Specificity and New England folklore (mermaids, seagulls and dead bodies) for Eggers—production design mastery
A Highly Recommend film – top 10 of the year worthy after one viewing