The Light Between Oceans | Review
When I first saw the trailer for THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS I was in two minds. Would it just be over melodramatic soap opera that looked good or would it be a much needed sob movie? Don’t judge me haha. The trailer looked beautiful, the cast of course are beautiful, and at times I often wonder if the word beautiful was invented thousands of years ago for the moment Alicia Vikander would be born. Well thanks to the peeps at Entertainment One I got to see it and I am still in two minds. THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS releases November 3rd in Australia, it is rated M and runs for 133mins.
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS SYNOPSIS
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS is a romantic period drama written and directed by Derek Cianfrance (THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES) and based on the 2012 novel of the same name by M. L. Stedman.
Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) has returned from the war and requested a posting in solitude at a lighthouse on a remote uninhabited island off the west coast of Australia. He wants peace of life far away from the battlefield. He ventures back to the mainland every few months and is quite taken by Isabel Graysmark (Alicia Vikander) because he is human. Isabel is also taken with him and eventually they marry. Isabel has two failed births on the island. After burying two possible children she is forlorn and in the throes of depression.
A dinghy is washed close to shore one day and in it they find a screaming baby and a deceased man. Isabel talks Tom into raising the baby as their own and they bury the man. This breaks his ethics for professionally managing the lighthouse and passing on all relevant information to higher authorities.
On a future visit to the mainland, with baby Lucy now a young child they meet a lady whose husband and baby were lost at sea. What follows is heartache, guilt and sadness.
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS is definitely a melodramatic movie that will have the cynics hating. But it is also a stunning movie, the cinematography from Adam Arkapaw (ANIMAL KINGDOM, ASSASSIN’S CREED) is Oscar worthy.
The Australian scenery is epic, it definitely makes Arkapaw’s job a little easier. It is filmed in Stanley, a remote area of Tasmania, not usually known for movies. As luck would have it LION also filmed there last year and they are hoping for a tourism boost. After seeing this I would kill to stay at that lighthouse.
The movie is about twenty minutes too long and the story plods quite a bit with grief ridden characters losing my love. It is hard to pity people who have basically stolen a baby, regardless of their own personal pain. The pain itself twisted Isabel into quite an ugly person and you are torn at her pain of losing a child she raised well with the reality she is a baby thief.
My initial words when I RSVPd to the distributor were “I will pack the tissues.” And this is where the movie lost its love and major appeal to me, I only cried once. This was at the end, none of the major heartbreaks had that major an impact on me. The pain for Tom and the sacrifice he was willing to make, that got to me for its honourable beauty.
THAT ACTING THOUGH:
If it wasn’t for the cast this movie would be a pile of rubbish reminiscent of recent Nicholas Sparks movies. But the cast saved it and not just a decent cast, a bloody marvellous one. Two Oscar winners and an Oscar nominee headline – then you have Jack Thompson, Bryan Brown and Garry McDonald as your support. It has this beautiful Australian tint to the movie and the leads are all sublime.
Jack Thompson is playing a role he was born to play, it was like an old sea dog version of Clancy of the Overflow, I wanted an entire movie of this character. Bryan Brown wasn’t in the movie enough but it was great to see him onscreen again and Garry McDonald’s role was too small to be significant.
I felt the most for Rachel Weisz but she only appears in the second half, he performance is brilliant however. Her character is in a terrible position doing what is right but appearing to be cruel and wrong. I can see how that would ruin a person.
Alicia Vikander was beautiful but for me the most annoying of the characters. Her performance ticked all the boxes but her character is so tainted by her pain that she became a person I just didn’t like. Call this good acting that it rubbed off from her character to my least favourite performance.
And the man himself, Alicia Vikander’s real life boyfriend, Michael Fassbender, steals the show for me. His character was so intriguing, pained, admirable, the perfect gentleman caught between a rock and a hard place and he nailed the performance. He is a man of very few words in the movie but those facial expressions display all.
The chemistry between Fassbender and Vikander was perfect, it was a relationship of the time, no hard core sex scenes – it was delicate and beautiful. To get the chemistry right Director Derek Cianfrance made them both live together for the six weeks on set. It probably worked too good, they are now real life partners. I love that.
THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS is a period romance drama, if that genre doesn’t appeal to you then this movie is not for you. If, however, you like a beautifully shot movie that at times looks like poetry on film then grab your tickets. If my nan was still alive I would be taking her to this movie this weekend. It is the type of film she would truly love. So grab your nannas and do something nice :).
Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan.
** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.