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Cannes diaries: Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe's surprise visit

  • Published at 12:52 am May 22nd, 2019
Rob Pat
Robert Eggers’ second feature fiction ‘The Lighthouse’ is competing for FIPRESCI prize at the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival, and the film’s cast paid a surprise visit at one of the screenings on Sunday | DhakaTribune

Robert Pattinson's 'The Lighthouse' was in my section — and of all the screenings, in all the theatres, in all the world, he walked into mine

You never know who you’ll run into at the Cannes Film Festival. Waiting in a long line of fans—or peeking behind global media hotshots to see an actor walk the red carpet—hardly seems like a dignified way to meet your celebrity crush. Luckily, for me, there was a Robert Pattinson movie, “The Lighthouse,” in my section. Of all the screenings, in all the theatres, in all the world, he walked into mine. 

I was required to watch around twenty movies at this festival with the audience. Since I found out the hard way that arriving at a theatre at the last minute does not guarantee a seat even for a jury member, my already jam-packed schedule was scrambled up and I ended up having to watch “The Lighthouse” at an unusually late hour. 

Missed GOT series finale for a worthy cause

The screening was at the exact same time as the airing of the “Game of Thrones” series finale — a show I never waited a day to watch. I was cursing my luck for missing the last episode when the former sparkling vampire showed up in his non-sparkling hours. 

Fate had brought me close to Cedric Diggory before; if you haven’t followed his career so far, just stop reading. Back when I worked in Hollywood, the first studio I interned for had a big poster of Robert Pattinson in the hallway. I later found out that we, Underground Films, had produced his 2010 movie “Remember Me” and we would probably take up another project with him. I didn’t stay back in Hollywood long enough for that to happen. However, there he was, watching his new film two rows ahead of me, along with his divine co-star Willem Dafoe, and I was given the impossible task of being impartial. 

When the stars walked in

The film festival is not open to the public. You need to be from the film or press fraternity to be able to get accredited for this festival. So, needless to say, everyone in the audience was a dignified film professional. There was absolutely no talk of the stars attending this screening before the MC announced their names from the stage. 

First they called the director Robert Eggers, then Willem Dafoe, and lastly, Robert Pattinson. Every last stern-looking film buff stood up at once and clicked away on their camera phones. The cast and crew stood on the stage not saying a word, just being charming. They posed for pictures and quietly went to their seats in the sixth row in the middle. 

The Lighthouse movie poster | IMDB

Server malfunction during the screening

You’d think a server malfunction at film festivals is exclusively a Bangladeshi thing. However, at that screening in Cannes, the screen went blank at least five times before the hosts stopped the film midway. We could not believe this was happening at the Cannes Film Festival. 

They changed servers after a five minute break. When the movie came back on, it was missing sound for another minute. The stars were kind enough not to make a fuss. 

The actors stood up in their seats for another round of snaps after the screening ended when the audience burst into long applause and a standing ovation. 

The film blew everyone away

I was familiar with this director’s debut feature film “The Witch.” With “The Lighthouse,” director Eggers has proven, once again, that he’s a force to be reckoned with. 

Set in an isolated lighthouse in 1890, the film follows a worn-out seaman Thomas Wake (Willem Dafoe) and his apprentice Ephraim Winslow (Robert Pattinson) through a maddening height of solitude. 

The black and white film has a squarish (4:3) aspect ratio of classic Hollywood. There is only one other character—a devilishly seductive mermaid—who appears in Winslow’s dreams. The rest of the movie consists of only the two central characters stuck in a wet, claustrophobic, lighthouse that pushes both the men to edge of sanity. 

The performances of Pattinson and Dafoe were powerful with ever-escalating violence and despair. The hallucinations of Winslow blurred the lines between reality, dream, and the supernatural. With deeply philosophical conversations and highly original dream sequences, the movie has something to offer to a wide range of audiences. 

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