The Light Between Oceans
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Writer: Derek Cianfrance
Based on: M.L. Stedman’s novel
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz, Florence Clery, Jack Thompson, Thomas Unger, Anthony Hayes, Benedict Hardie
Seen on: 20.9.2016
Tom (Michael Fassbender) has signed up to be the lighthouse keeper on a small island just off the coast of a small town in Australia. On the rare occasions that he gets to come to the main land and see people, he meets Isabel (Alicia Vikander) and they quickly fall in love. Isabel is happy to lead the solitary lighthouse keeper life with Tom and would love nothing more than a baby. Much to her chagrin, she keeps miscarrying though, so it feels like fate when a boat with a baby washes up on their island during a storm. Tom only wants to see Isabel happy, so he agrees to keep the child. But when they hear of Hannah (Rachel Weisz) whose husband and child were lost during the storm, they will have to make a decision.
The Light Between Oceans is one of the cheesiest films I ever saw. It’s high-quality cheese, no doubt about it, but it was all a little too much for me, ultimately keeping me at a distance.
I’m not saying that the film didn’t touch me – you’d probably have to be made of stone to be able to not go along with the heart-strings tugging and the absolutely beautiful soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat. But as tears were rolling down my face, there was a part of me – and it wasn’t a small one – that started to examine how the film manipulated my emotions and how and to what ends it employs the dramatics, making it obvious that I wasn’t all that much into the story.
Which is not the fault of the cast who played with the necessary fervor for the story but it was all just a bit much, culminating in a love-in-the-clouds-kitsch-credits montage that surpassed the entire film in its cheesiness with a margin – and that is really saying a lot. Amidst all the drama, it was Rachel Weisz who managed to ground her emotional performance in reality somewhat, making me love her even more.
The film works very hard to make us understand everybody’s decisions, but it didn’t quite manage it for me regarding Tom’s decision to go along with Isabel’s wish to keep the child. Although it didn’t quite fail, this remains the film’s weakest point regarding character motivations. But overall, it was the ending that simply fell behind the quality of the rest of the film. It was a cop-out if ever I saw one and thus making it incredibly disappointing.
If you’re prepared for the ultimate drama of the film and its end credits and don’t expect it to be like Cianfrance previous films, there is something (Rachel) to be said for watching the film (Weisz). But for me, it remained lukewarm.