Review: ‘The Light Between Oceans’ Shines Brightly

Genre: Drama | Romance Directed by: Derek Cianfrance Starring: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz Written by: Derek Cianfrance (screenplay), M.L. Stedman (novel)
Genre: Drama | Romance
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz
Written by: Derek Cianfrance (screenplay), M.L. Stedman (novel)

Synopsis: A lighthouse keeper and his wife discover baby lost at sea.

A down theater projector that delayed the start of the movie by 45 minutes, was a bad omen for the movie. I tried keeping this movie a surprise and didn’t pay attention to the trailers, also wasn’t aware that it was well over two hours, and it’s not even a superhero movie. What I ended up experiencing was one of the best movies of the year. The movie is set in the 1920’s and tells the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife that are living on an island off the coast of Australia. Their lonely lives are transformed when they find a baby on a boat lost at sea. Their normal and happy new life is soon turned upside down when a discovery is made that will change everything.

THE GOOD: 

Sure, this is considered to be a heavy melodrama, but it’s so engrossing that I couldn’t get my eyes of it. First of all, the story is incredibly compelling and mysterious. It’s a little slow at first, but not the kind of slow that puts you to sleep, it’s more the kind that keeps you intrigued enough to see when something is going to happen. I was shocked at all the twists and turns that take place, always having me guessing till the very final scene, event that scene leaves you with intriguing questions to ponder.

The look of the movie was simplistically beautiful. The terrain and views of the oceanside and the peaceful emptiness of the island are breathtaking. The sunsets are majestic. Even the storms look pretty. The cinematography of Adam Arkapaw is stunning. The costumes look elegant, yet simple. If the decade wasn’t detailed, the look suggests the movie could take place in a variety of different eras due to the style of it, combined with the isolation of the characters.

The isolation of the characters is reflective of the plot
The isolation of the characters is reflective of their journey

Director Derek Cianfrance has a unique way of going about telling his stories. He keeps a similar formula and tone in this movie as he did with Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines. It’s a drawn out and lengthy movie that has a variety of complex and emotional layers attached. I appreciate all those movies for the human element that they offer.

The performances are Oscar worthy. Both Fassbender and Vikander have a legitimate shot at earning nods for leading actor and actress, they are that good in this movie. Fassbender is on a trajectory of becoming a legendary actor. This film enhances that path. Fassbender can be that actor where we look back in a few decades and consider him an all-time great. His toned down and rangy work in the film is subtly phenomenal. Vikander has also displayed the rangy work she’s capable of doing. Her Oscar win last year is just a precursor of what’s to come for her. She can do it all. Her work in this film is incredibly powerful. The guilt, grief and desperation she plays the character with is spectacular. Rachel Weisz is also tremendous, but as great of an actress as she is, her performance is overshadowed by the magnetic performance of Fassbender and Vikander who do some next level kinda work, snot dripping and all.

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THE BAD:

I appreciated the honest and non-Hollywood ending, but I wish there was a little more to it. I also had some logical questions about the lead up and the payoff, but those are minor qualms. The length might not sit well with some people, but it’s necessary to tell the story completely and give time for the twists and turns to set in. Even though the film is set in Australia, there doesn’t seem to be any semblance of an Aussie accent in the movie. Fassbender and Vikander sounds very British. It wasn’t hinted if they were from a particular region or origin that would make them not sound Australian.

THE VERDICT:

The Light Between Oceans is a masterpiece. Visually it’s stunning. The performances are a master class in acting. The plot is a lot more intriguing and suspenseful than anticipated. The movie will hit home hard to many, especially parents. There are numerous self-reflecting questions that the movie brings to the surface. It’s a film that transcends generations and is applicable to today’s world. The issue of adoption and the impact of laws on it. The inner struggle and pain that the biological and adopted parents go though. It’s as romantic as it is heartbreaking. If this movie doesn’t make you feel, there is no other movie that will. It’s gut wrenching at times. It’s raw and as human of a movie you’ll see.

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 132 min

Release Date: Friday, September 2, 2016 

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About Jim Alexander

When it boils down to it, Jim's passion is entertainment. Aside from being an avid sports fan, that follows all things NFL, NBA, and Soccer. He currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago. At the core of his interests...movies! Whether trying to catch the newest flick coming out this weekend, or the latest On Demand release, to heated debates with his friends and colleagues about the most recent "Box Office Blunder". The passion for movies lies deep within him. When he isn't writing, he immerses himself in his other interests; Acting and Radio Broadcasting. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimRko.