Film Reviews

Published on September 5th, 2016 | by


‘The Light Between Oceans’ Explores Romance, Heartbreak

‘The Light Between Oceans’ Explores Romance, Heartbreak

Summary: A romantic, heartbreaking and epic drama based on M.L. Stedman's best-selling novel, starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as lighthouse keepers on a remote island caught in an impossible situation.


Romantic, heartbreaking and epic all describe “The Light Between Oceans,” a sweeping film based on M.L. Stedman’s best-selling novel. Michael Fassbender stars as Tom, a World War I veteran who takes a position as a lighthouse keeper on the isolated island Janus Rock, off the coast of Australia.

After the horrors of war, Tom looks forward to  finding some peace of mind on the remote island. Then he meets Isabelle (Alicia Vikander), who lives with her family on Point Partageuse, the nearest land to Janus Rock. The two fall in love and get married, with dreams of raising a family in the lighthouse’s idyllic location.

But parenthood eludes them, as Isabelle suffers not one, but two painful miscarriages, leaving the couple heartbroken. Then Tom spots a boat floating in the middle of the sea. He brings the boat into shore and finds a deceased man and a baby girl very much alive. Tom wants to report the baby to the authorities, but Isabelle feels this is a gift from God, and pleads with him to keep the baby and raise it as their own — which he does, reluctantly.

For several years, they raise baby Lucy and live a happy life on the remote island. But on one of their visits to Isabelle’s family, Tom encounters a woman (Rachel Weisz) who might be connected to the baby. Tom and Isabelle disagree on what they should do, but either path leads to guilt and heartbreak.

You can’t go wrong with director Derek Cianfrance (“The Place Beyond the Pines,” “Blue Valentine”) paired with the excellent acting skills of Fassbender, Vikander and Weisz. (As a side note, this movie is also the one where Fassbender and Vikander fell in love in real life.)

Like Cianfrance’s other films, “The Light Between Oceans” is moody and dramatic, only with more sweeping cinematography – in this case, of the gorgeous Australian landscape and ocean.  Cianfrance makes sure we’re fully invested in Tom and Isabelle as characters before upending their happy life for a grief-stricken, uncertain future.

This movie is not for the faint of heart. It’s rated PG-13, but with themes of profound grief and intimacy torn apart, I’m going with kids aged 15 and older on this one. But it’s also a really beautiful film that’s worth a look — if you can handle the heartbreaking moments.

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The Kitsap Scene is an online news magazine covering everything in Kitsap County.

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