The Light Between Oceans Reviewed
Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) is a returning veteran of the Great War. He is quiet, brooding, gorgeous, and definitely has PTSD. Sherbourne requests to work as a lighthouse keeper on an isolated island to silently suffer for his perceived wartime sins. Along the way he meets Isabel Graysmark (Alicia Vikander) and there is nothing a beautiful young woman from a small town loves more than a grizzled man with personal demons. The two quickly fall in love, get married, and decide to start a family.
Originally I was annoyed that within the first twenty minutes our two leads meet, write a couple letters, and get married. I know it's the early 1900’s, but damn—can’t a girl get to know a man? But Fassbender and Vikader made it work: the connection is genuine, the trauma feels real, and you can even understand the questionable decisions these characters make. Their on-screen sparks probably explain why the two actors started dating once filming finished. I also thought back to previous reviews where I complained about movies taking too long to get to the heart of the story. The Light Between Oceans is not about two people who get married and fall in love; it’s about a married couple and their daughter.
But really the story goes beyond just knowing what role Rachel Weisz is going to play; everything about this movie feels inevitable. Your heart aches for all these characters who are trapped by horrible yet somehow understandable circumstances. At no point do you ever think to yourself, “You know what; I think this is going to work out for everybody.” It feels like you are on a non-stop freight train to heartbreak city. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—for some people this is exactly the kind of movie they want to watch. Just don’t expect any small moments of levity to break up the tension; you are going to need your hanky on standby at all times.
The Light Between Oceans is romantic, heartbreaking, and beautiful all at the same time. From the landscape and cinematography to the characters’ interactions with one another, everything about this movie is touching. Add in the movie’s score and you can tell director Derek Cianfrance has only goal–to make you feel feelings. For some the manipulation of emotions can feel disingenuous, but I fell for it completely. The strength of the movie lies in the actors’ performances; they’re the only thing that will help you bear all the emotional gut punches. B-