The Light Between Oceans Review: Drama, Drama, Drama
Based on the book of the same name, The Light Between Oceans is a drama-filled period piece set on a small island south of Australia in 1918. The story follows Tom and Isabel Sherbourne, a couple who falls in love when Tom first comes to Partageuse. Tom is to be the new light keeper on the small island of Janus but not before meeting Isabel. They correspond via mail and fall in love. Once Tom comes to shore, they marry and set sail back to Janus. After a horrible turn of events, Isabel has multiple miscarriages and fears she will never be a mother. One day, a boat washes ashore carrying a deceased man and his infant child. The couple is desperate for a child, and must make a moral decision on what to do with this blessing that has been brought to them. Deciding it is best to keep the child, they name her Lucy and raise her as their own, until back in Partageuse, they encounter Lucy’s real mother, and they are put in an impossible place.
The Light Between Oceans is a beautiful story of love, loss, and impossible decisions. There are so many components in this film that weave a wonderful tale. The story of love is strongest; whether it be the love of a mother or father for their child, husband for their wife and vice versa, or the love that a stranger has for a child that they love as their own. The story hints upon moral dilemmas that no one could ever imagine making and the power of regret and guilt. These factors make The Light Between Oceans one of the year’s most moving films.
This is one of those instances where I did read the book before seeing the film. I can think of one major piece that was left out of the film that was in the book. The scene in which Tom and Hannah meet before Partageuse was removed from the film. I think this wasn’t the best choice because I think it adds something to the relationship in the film that could’ve solidified the ending more. Other than that, I think the film was fairly close to the book.
The performances in the film pack an emotional punch and are surely the highlight of the film. Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender have an undeniable chemistry. They give truly heartbreaking performances as Tom and Isabel Sherbourne. The level of raw emotional power these performances have is sure to stun an audience member. Rachel Weisz is as heartbreaking and memorable as Hannah, Lucy’s real mother. The range of emotions she felt in the film was nothing short of spectacular. The pain in palpable and tears you apart. In no way is this an easy film to watch, but is still so compellingly beautiful.
Secondary to the actors, the score by Alexandre Desplat is beautifully enchanting. The score adds even more of an emotional appeal to the film. Coupled with the majestic scenery of the island and ocean, the score makes the film even more stunning and artistic.
While all of these factors work well together, I do feel that some things could have been done better. The pacing of the film is particularly slow in parts. I think that these are made even more difficult to handle by the overabundance of scenery shots and music. Those scenes could’ve been cut in a half and still had the impact that was intended. I also think that the film was in a sense, overly dramatic. I think it was a combination of the acting, pacing, and long scenery shots that in the end hurt the film and made you feel all of its 132-minute run-time.
While these are all factors that impact the film, they don’t destroy it. The film is still stunningly beautiful and emotionally raw. Powerhouse performances by Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz are sure to solidify this film as a classic chick flick film. Heartbreaking and poignant, The Light Between Oceans shows the many stages of loss, love, and life, as two imperfect people navigate life, one day at a time.