It’s not so long ago that the whole of Europe relied on sea travel for prosperity. The Spice Wars were probably the peak of maritime engagement, but we still rely on shipping for commercial transportation heavily today. Equally important as the vessels themselves were the lighthouses which kept them away from the rocks. Chris Crow’s new film, The Lighthouse, is based on one of the most infamous cases in Welsh maritime history.
At the turn of the 19th century, Thomas Howells (Michael Jibson) and Thomas Griffiths (Mark Lewis Jones) are tasked with the stewardship of a lighthouse on a rocky outcrop twenty miles off the coast of St David, in the Irish sea. The pair have no love for each other. Howells has turned to religion to help him battle his demons whilst Thomas’ anger is never far below the surface. When a raging storm traps them on the island, tempers begin to fray as their rations dwindle with no prospect of rescue.
The Lighthouse is a wonderfully acted and beautifully shot film. After his superb taciturn performance in The Passing last year, Jones delivers a characterisation of pure menace. He brims with macho bravado and danger. Jibson is also excellent as a man in desperate need of redemption. It’s constantly tense, the enclosed space within the lighthouse offers a sense of claustrophobia and mystery. The Lighthouse is the best Welsh film of the year. It’s a tense psychological drama where the greatest danger lurks inside the imagination.
The Lighthouse is released on DVD by Soda Pictures on Monday.