The Light Between Oceans Review
Director: Derek Cianfrance.
The incredibly ambitious Director behind Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond The Pines, Derek Cianfrance brings to life an international bestselling titular debut novel by M.L. Stedman about a lighthouse couple who rescue and raise a baby girl as their own.
It's actually a very complex and complete story spanning quite a lot of years. Set post World War One, Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) is in search of solitude after the witnessing the atrocities of war and take the post as lighthouse keeper on the fictional Janus Island, some distance off the Australian coast.
There's an attraction between mainlander, Isabel Graysmark, (Alicia Vikander) and Tom which blossoms into a fast romance and eventually marriage where they then both reside on the lighthouse island together trying for a family. But someone washes ashore, a baby, lost at sea, and the story unravels from there.
It's not necessarily a romance but a powerful drama about poor choices and guilty consequences, a tug-o-war of what people should do next. With moral dilemmas getting deeper and deeper as the story progresses, though it's done without providing any direct opinion to what is right or wrong, refusing to pass judgement on any of the characters, leaving the audience to make up their own mind, becoming a grand piece of conversation.
Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander give amazing, strong and emotional performances. Highly believable getting totally engaged with each character. Both story and character development is superb, watching the transitions and inner turmoils. Rachel Weisz also gives a difficult-to-watch performance.
One other character in this film is the lighthouse itself, on Janus island. The mythology behind the name is charming and fitting, even if slightly incorrect. It's both benevolent and haunting at the same time.
The film covers so much ground and at its basic form, it's just about life and it's choices which then includes love, loss, guilt, resentment, forgiveness and reconciliation. You know what's happening for most of the film which makes it feel long and it is for a 133min running time but the conclusion isn't that foreseeable. But so much happens in that running, it's impossible to cut it down anymore, it's actually fast paced in places, even though it might not feel that way, but you might think you've missed something in parts where it time hops.
Alexandre Desplat does a brilliant score with airy strings and gentle pianos that sounds like a mix of the late James Horner's more dramatic pieces and Philip Glass' darker side. The music, like in all of Cainfrance's movies, plays an integral part of the film and Desplat conveys emotion and horror exceptionally well here. Tracks to listen to are "At First Sight", "Path Of Light" and "The Light Between Oceans"
Cianfrance does another amazing piece of cinema, beautifully shot and pieced together quite elegantly but I fear it won't be for everyone, possibly being too long for some or not a subject drama people would be so keen on seeing. Nonetheless, it's superbly played out, stunning and intriguing to the very end.
I recommend reading the below bookpage interview with M.L. Stedman if you want to know more.
Running Time: 6
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 8
The Extra Bonus Point: 0
Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Maybe, but only when on special.