The Light Between Oceans
Romance films haven’t really been all that successful recently, at least not in the critical mind. The latest romance film with the potential of breaking this trend is The Light Between Oceans, which compiled a great creative team that almost delivers the savior of the genre.
The Light Between Oceans is the adaptation of the novel of the same name. The story takes place in an Australian coast in 1918, after WWI had just ended. Tom (Michael Fassbender) is a lonely and scarred veteran who decides to take the position of a lighthouse keeper on a remote island. At first Tom leads a quiet life of solitude, but coming to and fro to the fishing village nearby, he acquaints himself with the young Isabel (Alicia Vikander). The two quickly fall in love and get married, with Isabel moving to the lighthouse with him. After a while the couple try and have children, but Isabel suffers two miscarriages, and just when all hope is lost a boat arrives on their island with a dead man and a crying baby. Isabel takes it as fate giving her a child, but the more rigid Tom wants to report it to the authorities.
As said before, the creative team couldn’t be better. Director Derek Cianfrance is an expert at realistic and honest romances, and both Vikander and Fassbender are at the top of their game; Rachel Weisz also makes an appearance as the baby’s possible biological mother, and she gives a great performance in very little screen time. Even the technical aspects of the film were great, from the amazing cinematography that captured the vastness and beauty of the island and sea, to the swelling music of Alexandre Desplat. So why then was I not satisfied?
I think that the root of the problem is the source material. I have no doubt that the book is very well written and a true page-turner, but I can’t help feeling that as the story progresses the narrative becomes a bit over dramatic and the final scene of the film is incredibly cheesy and completely unnecessary. It’s sad that the incredible effort of such artistic experts is blurred by the juvenile efforts of the story.
Nevertheless I have to say that I did enjoy the film, and thought it was money well spent. Vikander has some truly harrowing scenes with her miscarriages making us all tremble and reach out toward the screen to try and help her. Her and Fassbender have some truly moving scenes when playing with their daughter (it should be noted that the two actors became a couple during production). Cianfrance tries his best to spin an artistic and pleasing delivery of a rather raunchy and overly escalated story.