Review: The Light Between Oceans

From the director of The Place Beyond the Pines and Blue Valentine, Derek Cianfrance and based on the novel by M.L. Stedman; a tale of a lighthouse keeper and his wife, raising a child they rescued from a drifting rowing boat and the conflict they inevitably find when they meet their daughter’s biological mother. Starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz, Florence Clery, Jack Thompson, Thomas Unger, Bryan Brown and Emily Barclay.

There is no denying that both Fassbender and Vikander are phenomenal actors and putting them both together on the big screen is something wonderful to watch, both of them give strong and emotional performances. There is a good portion of the film where not that much is asked of the actors, then in the bursts of action in pain, sadness, angst and anger they show you what they’re made of and don’t disappoint. Weisz also gives a good performance, although it does not stand out alongside our two leads, the strength of those two actors eclipses Weisz but she does add to the story in a valuable way. Normally there would be more to talk about but it is simply that Fassbender and Vikander give great performances, their chemistry is incredibly strong as expected and the film centres around that strength.

That isn’t all the film has to offer, cinematographer Adam Arkapaw (Macbeth, True Detective, Animal Kingdom) has genuinely managed to instil beauty into the film, taking full advantage of the surroundings and their visual benefits. The positive aspects of the film cease there sadly, it has some rather large issues; predominantly that everything you assume is going to happen going in, is exactly what happens, nothing more and it is stretched out to an over two hours running time with no surprises and a large quantity of quiet moments. The entire film somehow feels quiet, the theme of solitude permeates the entire experience and though it is still enjoyable and worthwhile to watch, the strength of the acting doesn’t push the emotion to the level you’d expect, it evokes a reaction but not one that is being moved or heart-broken, it’s much less non-committal. The moments in which the emotion is at its strongest are much too short-lived, undermining their emphasis and leaving the focus on the less vital moments.

Despite the first-class acting the film has to offer, the story isn’t of the same quality, it’s much too obvious and doesn’t offer enough to fill its 133 minutes. It’s beautifully shot and it’s worth watching but with this powerhouse couple, it should have been much more memorable when it sadly isn’t.

Verdict: 6/10

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