Another day, another trip to the cinema (the perks of friends who can get you discounted tickets). The Light Between Oceans is based on the hugely popular novel by M.L. Steadman (which I never read), and tells the story of a couple; WW1 veteran Tom (Michael Fassbender) and Isabel (Alicia Vikander) who live on an island off the coast of Australia manning a lighthouse. One day a boat washes up on the island containing the body of a man and an orphaned baby; experiencing grief after miscarrying for the second time, Isabel convinces Tom to let her keep the child and bring it up as their own.
As you can imagine, this doesn’t go so well, and what follows is 2hrs of pretty sad film watching. The film is adapted and directed by Derek Cianfrance, and I feel like the problems I had with it lay in his work. The film definitely felt overly long, it could have definitely been condensed. Whilst we are given some really beautiful landscapes and couples in love montages, it did have me checking my watch a few times to work out when on earth this was all going to end. Plus the letters the main characters write to each other verge on the overly cheesy.
That being said, the central premise was a really interesting and challenging one. You never quite know who to root for; you want Tom and Isabel to be happy, but when the baby’s mother arrives (Rachel Weisz) you want her to have her life back too.
This is aided by some really great performances by the two leads. Fassbender is excellent at being generally broody and brings some depth to his character (even if we don’t find much out about his backstory at all). Vikander is just an incredibly natural screen presence, and brilliantly depicts her character’s grief. There’s also great work by Weisz, as always, and some really good child acting from Florence Clery who like Vikander, is just a really natural presence.
Whilst I’m not sure if I’d necessarily hugely recommend this, it might be worth checking out if you enjoyed the book; otherwise it could be a good Sunday night watch, just for Fassbender and Vikander’s really solid performances.