The Lightkeepers is a film about two men, each running away from his past and finding solace at a lighthouse in 1912 Cape Cod. Writer-director Daniel Adams tells the story of Seth (Richard Dreyfuss), an ornery ex-sailor and self-proclaimed woman hater who ran away from his old life to live by the sea. He wants nothing more than to smoke his pipe and keep the lighthouse flame burning bright. It’s hard to dislike this film given the romantic and charming nature of the story, but with a cliche-ridden screenplay, Adams strains for quaintness and whimsy and instead opts for static predictability, while most of the narrative gets bogged down with exposition digested through long arduous monologues.
From the opening minutes of the film, Seth browbeats his assistant and it’s clear that his boisterous personality rubs Seth the wrong way as the young man flees in frustration. One day Seth takes in John Brown (Tom Wisdom), an aristocrat who’s clearly used to the finer things in life; he washes up on shore and claims to have fallen overboard the steamer he was traveling on. After some sparring, the men find common ground in the fact that they both were wronged by women in their past. Seth begins to trust John and invites him to stay with him as his assistant, but life takes a turn when two women show up at the bungalow next door and John falls in love with one of them, a young heiress named Ruth (Mamie Gummer).
Dreyfuss’ performance as the salty old lighthouse keeper is over the top, and between growls and incoherent musings you wish that Adams instructed him to tone it down a bit. It’s clear that Dreyfuss is having fun with the character, but his overacting comes off as awkward and, if anything, takes away from the overall tone of the film. What’s even more awkward is Seth’s relationship with Mrs. Bascom, played by Blythe Danner, a strong-willed, quick-witted woman who turns out to be Seth’s wife, whom he ran away from eight years prior. Danner’s performance is the film’s one strength and she does what she can with the material, but she’s overshadowed by Dreyfuss’ hamfest and both characters seem to fall apart as the film drags on.
The Lightkeepers is reminiscent of a Lucy Maud Montgomery novel, with strong independent female characters rejecting traditional roles and challenging Seth’s “boys club,” but with an anemic screenplay injected with too-flowery dialogue, the film lacks the finesse of a novel and, aside from shots of pristine landscapes, the film comes across as flat.
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- Released: 2010
- Rating: PG
- Review: The Lightkeepers is a film about two men, each running away from his past and finding solace at a lighthouse in 1912 Cape Cod. Writer-director Daniel Adams tells the story of Seth (Richard Dreyfuss), an ornery ex-sailor and self-proclaimed woman hater who… (more)