Film Review: The Light Between Oceans (M) (AUS/UK/USA, 2016) is an Oscar-worthy heartwarming but heartbreaking film

Based on the bestselling novel by Australian author M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans, directed by Derek Cianfrance, is an Oscar-worthy heartwarming but heartbreaking film.

It centres on Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) who retreats to a tiny town in Australia to forget the horrors of WWI. He gets a job as a lighthouse keeper on a nearby remote island and soon catches the attention of Isabel, a local (Alicia Vikander). They marry and start their lives together on the island, but everything changes when they find a baby and a dead man in a boat that’s washed ashore. And consequences hit the couple when they take the baby in…

The film captured the characters’ state of mind perfectly. Vikander and Fassender’s performances as well as Rachel Weisz’s were quite raw and seeped into your soul. You might forget that they’re just acting. Even though Weisz and Vikander both play grieving mothers, their characters were beautifully distinct.

The scenic shots of the remote island and ocean reflected the tranquility but also the isolation and turmoil that the characters faced. The film further played with these states through close ups and near-absent background music, making the events confronting.

The only downsides were the climax, which didn’t last longer than ten minutes, ultimately not flowing well with the rest of the film. It felt rushed and its climax didn’t leave the emotional impact it should have.

If you’ve read the book, you won’t be disappointed. This is a faithful and in-depth adaptation without cramming everything in nor cutting anything important out. As for romance, you’ll get little of that too. This isn’t The Notebook, but still a noteworthy film with different kinds of love co-existing – with all its uncertainty and consequences amongst brilliant performances.


The Light Between Oceans opens on 3rd November 2016


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