Monday, January 9, 2012

Lightship (1985)

Jerzy Skolimoski, darling of the art house crowd with films like Moonlighting (with Jeremy Irons) and The Shout confused more than a few critics by turning in this neat little thriller that owes more to film noir than to any art house sensibilities. Never mind that Skolimoski never stayed with in the narrow confines of what many critics consider good subjects, they didn’t like his newest film and panned it…or if not panned it dismissed it as beneath him (especially since the lead villain was played by Robert Duvall hot off his Oscar win for Tender Mercies).

The plot of the film has a teenage son going to spend some time with his father (Klaus Maria Brandauer) on the lightship he captains. The lightship is a floating lighthouse put in place to mark dangerous waters where a regular lighthouse can’t be placed. As father and son deal with more than the usual father son tension (including questions of what did you do in the war daddy) the ship is invaded by three criminals who want to cut the ship loose from the moorings and use it for their own evil purposes.

Is the film deep and meaningful?

Hell no.

Is it a good little crime story?

Hell yea.

Forget any sort of pretentions and just take it as a memory play crime story about a son battling his father in the middle of a hijack. It’s a potboiler pure and simple and any attempt to read anything else into it will only confuse things needlessly.

Is the film beneath director Skolimoski? It depends why your asking it. Are you looking for simply a good little film that is worth a bowl of popcorn? Then it’s not. This is good little entertainment. If you’re looking for a look into the deeper meaning of existence then it probably is. On the other hand one can’t eat the same thing over and over again without it turning into something bland. As you can tell from the wide swings this blog takes sometimes you need to watch something less deep than War and Peace…hell if you don’t you’ll never know how good the better films really are.

I really like this film. It’s a neat little thriller that had it been made in black and white when the film is set it would have been hailed as a classic…while its not quite that today it is worth a bowl of popcorn and a soda.

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