I’m not normally a “period piece” person, so I’m not even sure what originally attracted me to The Lightkeepers, other than a great cast with Richard Dreyfuss and Blythe Danner no less. Yet despite the stellar cast, there was a lack of warmth in it, which is especially odd coming from those actors, and I spent most of the movie trying to figure out why I failed to find the warmth and connect to it in some manner.
Seth Atkins (Dreyfuss) is a lightkeeper, the guy in charge of watching a lighthouse on Cape Cod. In the opening moments of the film, he fires his assistant who complains on his way out about his ex boss’s contempt for women in a way too obvious foreshadowing of plot lines to come. Dreyfuss does play an adequate curmudgeon, however. The failings in that opening scene seem mostly to be in script.
In the next scene, Seth finds a young man washed up onshore, in yet more obvious plot lines. The man claims to not remember where he came from and seems to luck into recalling his name, John Brown (Tom Wisdom). For someone who washed up onshore, he’s in no hurry to leave and does everything he can to stay there with Seth, despite the fact that it seems the lightkeeper despises him. Seth despised him because he asked too many questions. I despised him because he was too pretentious. It just so happens Seth needs a new assistant, so he gets his wish to stay, despite not knowing how to cook or really do anything else that would lead to him being independent.
Seth heads into town and finds out that two women (Danner and Mamie Gummer) will be staying there in a house by the lighthouse, and he completely freaks out over this and shares his frustrations with John. The two end up bonding finally over their mutual contempt of the other half of the species, and through that, we see where the story is going with the two women. Also through this scene, John finally loses his pretentiousness as he lets his guard down for the first time.
I won’t reveal where the story goes between John and the younger of the two women and Seth and the older of the two women, as just with those words there, you probably figured it out. But that’s not where I had the problem. After all, I’m a huge romantic comedy fan, and nothing could be more obvious than those. Yet they’re not only fun, they are always filled with such warmth that emanates off the screen. That can’t be said here, and that’s where I struggled with it.
The Lightkeepers is out now on DVD and Blu-ray.