Intense drama starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander. After the first World War a tired and mentally scarred man returns to Australia and seeks peace and quiet with the Lighthouse work that he loves. He goes for a job in an isolated island just off the coast and starts a romance with a local girl. The island is only for the Man and the woman who is his wife so the romance moves quickly. The young girl is eager to start a family and the love between husband and wife seems unbreakable. When the woman suffers two miscarriages her mental state seems to start to fall apart. Soon after the second miscarriage they find a raft with a dead man and a young baby, and rather than report this they bury the man and just claim that the baby is theirs. The story is complicated when they return to the mainland and find the real mother of the child is grieving and believes that both her husband and child were lost at sea.
At the start of the year the wonderful people at the PR company showed us their upcoming slate of films and this one popped out at me straight away. First of all it has Vikander in it, which you know, is a great benefit, as she’s the rising star of the acting world and always gives everything to a role. Second Fassbender, who is wasted as Magneto, there I said it, and can do more and better roles than X-Men. Next you have the always amazing Rachel Weisz, and this is proof that there are no small parts in the acting business. Finally the story based on M. L. Stedman’s book.
The Light Between Oceans is this generations Sophie Choice and throws you straight into the terrible choices that face this couple. You feel the love that Fassbender and Vikander’s characters have for one another, how blissful their life is in that beautiful isolation of the island and you want them to have a family. The heartbreak of the miscarriages is conveyed through superb acting and a tender script which does all it can to make you care for the characters. When the struggle of do they reveal to the birth mother of the child that her lost child is still alive and hand her comes to a point you are gripping the edge of the seat wondering what they will do and going through in your head what you would do in the same position. That is what a great movie does, an emotional choice is made on-screen and you place yourself in the shoes of the characters, and The Light Between Oceans plays out in that manner.
I had a few problems with the film though, I thought that the emotional knockout punch that should have been given in the final third of the film never really comes, you get slapped around a bit, and that’s it. I also think that if the child is older when it comes to final acts you would get a higher torment of the soul. It’s there, don’t get me wrong, and I’m sure anyone who has a child will tell you the dread they’d have in either position. It’s just a small few niggles that bothered me. In spending time building the early love between the Fassbender and Vikander characters I think that the film takes away time from the ending of the film where I should have been reaching for the tissues.
The film runs for two and a quarter hours, only you don’t feel it, you get involved in the characters and their lives, the feeling of tiredness after the long war, and you are immersed into the setting. The quality of the film, from the background acting, the settings and production levels, and the really elegant shots of the landscape, along with a script that can sometimes sting your heart like listening to ‘All by myself’ after a breakup. This is the best melodrama that you’re going to get for your cash this year. You’ll leave the cinema, after watching the sunset, and know that you’ve got the complete story. One to watch on the big screen but will be just as good on home entertainment.
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Writers: Derek Cianfrance (written for the screen by), M.L. Stedman (novel)
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz