The Lightkeepers (2009)

Rating: 4 out of 5
Rated: PG
Reviewer: Rissi C.
After perusing a Christian catalog and subsequently visiting a website which endorses clean, family-appropriate movies, both big-screen and TV productions, I thought maybe this unknown film sounded interesting by its own merits. All that and the fact that I am a hopeless costume drama devotee made this just too tempting to ignore.
Some men like being all-alone with no companions. Seth Atkins (Richard Dreyfuss) is one of them. He is the lighthouse keeper on Massachusetts Cape Cod shore, and apart from an assistant – who happens to have just quit -- he likes his solitude. Shortly following his assistant's departure, Seth finds a man lying on the beach, washed in with the tide. John (Tom Wisdom) offers little about himself, but Seth knows there is more to his story than he is offering. After a rough start the two get along famously but keep to themselves, each doing their own jobs. When the inconvenience of female company threatens to invade their otherwise peaceful existence, the woman-hating Seth finds an ally in his young apprentice and the two make a pact to do bodily harm to the other should they ever be caught even being civil to their female neighbors. Those two unexpected visitors are the wealthy Ruth Lowell (Mamie Gummer) who’s family owns the cottage and her loyal housekeeper, Mrs. Bascom (Blythe Danner). From their perspective, the summer starts out with lovely promise, but soon past secrets are unveiled and before these four realize it, things are about to get really complicated.
Certain things separate the good movies from the bad. There is often something which stands out to dictate those vast differences. Not all period pieces have the luxury of a large budget or the biggest names and I am afraid this particular title suffers in many regards. The casting really didn’t sway me one way or another since it was average all around –- I will confess that the decision to cast Wisdom really wasn’t ideal. He seemed the one really weak link in the otherwise decent cast. In this instance, I am willing to cut the entire cast some slack because in many cases they are only as good as the script they are provided with and here that script is seriously flawed and downright terrible. Throughout the entire movie, one keeps waiting for things to improve because it has that potential and you just continue thinking something has to snap into place bringing everything together to work better. Sadly, that never does materialize. Apart from it being difficult to hear much of Richard Dreyfuss’ dialect -– I am not sure whether it was his accent or his character was meant to be that much of a mumbling idiot –- the dialogue is painfully ridiculous. There is something left wanting about the whole screenplay. Some conversations do retain some sense of normalcy but most leave you questioning the sanity of its characters. And, sometimes its just plain corny and that does become old really quickly. All the scenes meant as a confrontation aren’t well pulled together; instead all they do is make us disbelieve the animosity meant to have built between characters. Revelations aren’t as big as they’re played up to be -– especially the reason(s) behind Seth’s hatred (it all felt rather laughable). None of this bodes well since Adams is working on a re-make of Big Valley.
In all fairness, I have to give the film points for retaining an innocent picture of, in many instances, beauty. There is next-to-nothing to worry those wondering on the content. Suggestions arise which question whether or not a married woman considered or did have an affair. A couple profanities mar the script and someone references past thoughts of suicide while admitting that a friend did take their life sometime before. In the climax, many untruths are uncovered. Unfortunate as lies are, in this case, they were “necessary” to the plot. Otherwise little material invades. The storyline isn’t much nor is it innovative, but there is a charming quality hidden beneath the otherwise mediocre filmmaking. Or in plainer terms, there was a lot of potential to the idea. The movie closed, I hit “stop” and that was the first thing I ranted about. This was undoubtedly a missed opportunity. Locations are gorgeous, the beach as a backdrop lends itself to a romantic setting and therefore is appropriate. Costuming is lovely even in its limited capacity (many of the clothing are repeats), and very appropriate for its era (although I will confess seeing the bathing suits made me laugh-out-loud, merely because being covered from head-to-toe in swimwear nowadays is anything but common!), but sadly the editing is poor. Many of the monologue scenes are cut from previous scenes which had a greater impact on the movie and while I do understand the sequences showing the passing of time, it wasn’t done well as it is so painfully obvious what we’re seeing isn’t “new.”
I didn’t mind having seen this nor did I find it terribly boring. There are some laughs and certain aspects prove enlightening but it does establish ordinary, predictable habits. Had other companies gotten a hold of it, or if its financing had been greater, the budding ideas could have been carried further, as it is, it was entertaining but not something I’ll be often to revisit.