“The Light Between Oceans” (2016)
Tom (Michael Fassbender) is a damaged man who is returning from the horrors of four years of fighting the battles of World War I for his native Australia. It seems to take every effort for Tom to answer the questions of a man who is interviewing him for the job of lighthouse keeper on a small isolated island one hundred miles from the nearest town called Janus Rock. Almost reluctantly the interviewer gives Tom the job but not before telling him that the last keeper went mad due to the isolation. This doesn’t seem to faze Tom; in fact, it appears to delight Tom that he won’t have to deal with anyone.
Tom is invited to dinner at the home of some of the townspeople, and there he meets Isabel (Alicia Vikander) a lovely and vivacious young woman, who seems to delight in making Tom slightly uncomfortable. She finagles Tom into to taking her on a picnic the next day. There is a definite attraction between the two and the more time they spend together, the more it become evident that they belong to each other, so much so that Isabel proposes to Tom. He doesn’t take the proposal seriously but does tell Isabel that they should write to each other while he is away at the lighthouse.
It’s not long before wedding bells are ringing for Tom and Isabel, and they began living a lovely life on their small island. However, the perfect world that they have built for themselves is going to come crashing down and they will only be able to blame themselves for the fall.
“The Light Between Oceans” is a film about two people, who make a wrong decision that affects their lives with everlasting consequences. It turns out that Isabel is almost as damaged as Tom is, and the two together do not make the best decisions, and those decisions have far-reaching ramifications.
The movie is beautiful to look at. The cinematography by Adam Arkapaw is gorgeous and captures the raw beauty of the rustic coast of Australia, with sweeping shots from high above which gives us a birds eye view of the land. Those shots are greatly aided by an incredible score by Alexandre Despiat that adds to the feel and tone of the film. It looks like Director/writer Derek Cianofrance may have fallen in love with this part of the country because after the fourth overhead shot of the coast, you become a little bored with the same shots over and over. The film moves at a slow, almost snail’s pace, making the film feels much longer than its 2-hour 12-minute length. My biggest problem with this film is I never emotionally connect with the characters.
Michael Fassbender has the task of making a very dull, lifeless character likable and he doesn’t always succeed. His character is the moral compass in the film, which we are informed about over and over. This darkness and angst isn’t a good look on Fassbender, and it weighs down the film. Alicia Vikander has an easier task as her character to start the movie is much lighter, poking fun at the stoic Tom. As the film progresses and the troubles start, her character becomes much darker, almost vindictive and Vikander has the chops to pull it off. The third part that stands out in this film is the performance of Rachel Weisz, who plays a character that throws a major twist to the plot. Weisz’s performance is beautiful to watch, and she leaves everything on the screen, one big raw emotion that is constantly being shown. It’s a powerful performance full of nuance and is the best thing about this film.
Ultimately, the film wears down over the constant twist and turns, never quite getting out of the darkness that it has created. The ending of the movie feels like it was added on by the studio to try and fix the mess that the filmmaker created, but it doesn’t fix anything. There were brief times while watching this film that I enjoyed it but that was few and far between. I never felt the film hit me emotionally, so by the end of the movie what I mostly felt was being tired. My Rating: Bargain Matinee
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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