Cast: Michael Fassbender / Alicia Vikander / Rachel Weisz
Director: Derek Cianfrance.
Content Rating: PG 13 for thematic material and sexual content.
A lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from a drifting rowing boat.
I planned to read the book first, but when that didn't happen, I just couldn't resist immediately renting the movie to watch. It just looked so beautiful. And while it definitely had its flaws, I thought it was.
What I Loved:
The cinematography was excellent and chilling, and the visuals were stunningly haunting. Whether it was the tossing grey blue of the waves or the misty, dreamlike atmosphere of lighthouse, it was like another world; tender and tragic and wistful.
The performances were graceful, subtle, and superb. Fassbender and Vikander were brilliant - not to mention their effortless chemistry - and their characterisation blended into the atmosphere elegantly and powerfully. Vikander has a gorgeous, subtle way of pulling you close, and her performance was achingly gut-wrenching and heartfelt. The characters were strong and dynamic, and the addition of the ever reliable Rachel Weisz who arrived halfway through the film, gave even more assurance to the already stellar cast and characters.
I sobbed my eyes out during this movie. Despite the frequent overwrought emotions, it did slice at my heart, and it did make an impression on me. With A-list actors like this film had, such emotion managed to pass as bearable.
What I Didn't Love:
Unfortunately this film wasn't perfect, and I wish I hadn't seen the flaws. But there you have it:
The emotion was frequently overdone and melodramatic, and while it was still very tragic, it was overblown. At the beginning, the romance between Tom and Isobel was unrealistic and melodramatic, and it all seemed too dreamlike and removed from real life. It felt uncomfortable; rather than romantic.
As the story progressed, it got slower and slower and more exhausting. The acting was excellent and it was beautifully tragic, but it did drag on for too long. It got tedious, a little boring, and then......oh my gosh, the twists and turns. They were tiresome and heavy, and I just wanted the story to "cut!".
Especially when they started to include flashbacks for Weisz's character: those were boring and unnecessary and a pathetic attempt to try squeeze in more empathy and more characters to the already cluttered cast.
And the ending. Through the tears - there were plenty of those - I felt cheated and annoyed. It drifted back into the unrealistic, dreamlike state of Tom and Isobel's romance at the beginning of the film, and it felt random and silly. I know that it's completely likely that Isobel could have died before Tom, but looking at them - seeing the very obvious age difference - it just felt contrived in an effort to make a poetic conclusion.
Not to mention, I didn't like the way Tom and Isobel's conflict with the police and Hannah ended; it didn't resolve properly.
I really don't know if I should rate The Light Between Oceans three and a half flowers, or four. I'll go with four for now, because if it made me sob my guts out, then surely that's got to count for something?
The Light Between Oceans was brilliantly acted and filmed, but its emotions were frequently melodramatic and it suffered from tedious and exhausting twists and turns.