Lighthouse: Important Story Clumsily Told

People’s reaction to trauma is so mind-bogglingly complex and varied, that simplistic reasoning does not necessarily explain or predict it. Some close down, some breakout but clumsily, while some others might just try to go about their daily lives as though nothing happened. Manuela Vasquez’s Lighthouse delves into the reaction a dancer, Paige has to be being assaulted by her dance partner. 

To the film’s credit, even simple dance moves between the two echoes a claustrophobic sense of being trapped. The choreography and cinematography are both designed in a way to lead the character through a struggle that must end in some kind of resolution. From the opener, Paige visibly struggles with the aftermath of the event. She shakily applies makeup to cover up the bruises and the film cuts shots as rapidly as her anxious movements. 

Lighthouse - Short Film Review - Indie Shorts Mag

The mellow colour palette echoes the almost dreamlike surface of her craft; the work that goes into perfecting the moves is as gritty as her trauma is bloody. And we see only hints of what’s beneath in both cases. Lighthouse comes with a hauntingly beautiful score that echoes Paige in a strangely accurate way, conveying both pain and a mechanical determination to keep the show going on.

Julia van Geldern as Paige makes for a very graceful dancer, although her acting performance has both moments of doubt and nuance. Vicardo Moon as Griffin is charming, a source of warmth for Paige while she is bombarded on the one side by the continued presence of her assaulter, Sebastian (Cameron Duckett) and her teacher (Leticia Moore Williams) on the other. 

Lighthouse - Short Film Review - Indie Shorts Mag

Williams’ character is poorly characterised and a dampening presence. She is not written to have any presence beyond a nagging, screaming voice (especially hateful in the final performance and confrontation) that has no real purpose in the plot. It is a shame, for the character could have been rather useful to develop a richer environment. That last shot is a questionable choice; the film decides to end on a lingering shot of Sebastian, giving him an odd, undeserved sense of focus. 

Music and choreography make the film worth watching; even if Lighthouse trips on its own feet, it still manages to have an impact in the especially crucial moments. 

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Lighthouse: Important Story Clumsily Told
3.5 / 5 Stars

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