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The Light Between Oceans Movie Review

The Light Between Oceans (2016) movie poster The Light Between Oceans

Theatrical Release: September 2, 2016 / Running Time: 132 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Derek Cianfrance/ Writers: M.L. Stedman (novel); Derek Cianfrance (screenplay)

Cast: Michael Fassbender (Tom Sherbourne), Alicia Vikander (Isabel Graysmark), Rachel Weisz (Hannah Roennfeldt), Florence Clery (Lucy-Grace), Jack Thompson (Ralph Addicott), Thomas Unger (Bluey Smart), Jane Menelaus (Violet Graysmark), Garry Macdonald (Bill Graysmark), Anthony Hayes (Sergeant Vernon Knuckey), Benedict Hardie (Constable Harry Garstone), Emily Barclay (Gwen Potts), Bryan Brown (Septimus Potts), Stephen Ure (Neville Whitnish)


After commanding attention with the original and unusually moving dramas Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines,
writer-director Derek Cianfrance turns to adaptation on The Light Between Oceans, making M.L. Stedman's 2012 novel into a feature film just ahead of the industry's award season.

International Hollywood power couple Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander play Tom and Isabel Sherbourne. He's a World War I veteran hired as a lighthouse keeper in 1918 on a remote island off the coast of Australia. She becomes his wife not long after inviting herself out with him. Isabel tries to have a child and fails. After the second miscarriage, a rowing boat turns up near the island holding a dead man and a living baby. Isabel convinces Tom not to report the discovery of the missing infant and to instead pass the child off as the one she was expecting.

Real-life couple Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander play Tom and Isabel Sherbourne, who find happiness as lighthouse keepers on a remote island in "The Light Between Oceans."

It seems like a harmless enough lie, and the Sherbournes have never been happier than they are with young Lucy in their lives. But within a few years, upon learning about the girl's grieving biological mother Hannah Roennfeldt (Rachel Weisz), Tom begins dropping hints that her child is not dead. Soon, he's arrested and taking full blame for the deception that the Sherbournes have pulled off.

Light is a change of pace for Cianfrance, whose somewhat improvised, utterly human previous two films both stood out in grand ways. Light is still a good film and a beautifully photographed one, but it lacks the visceral impact of the director's past work. It kind of resembles a millennial Lasse Hallstrφm adaptation, a form that was quite respected back then but hasn't been in vogue for a little while.

Fassbender and Vikander both do what they can with these characters and seem to serve the material better than most actors would, even though neither attempts an Australian accent. Weisz then comes in and adds a welcome layer of intrigue.

The emergence of Lucy's biological mother Hannah Roennfeldt (Rachel Weisz) complicates life for the Sherbournes.

The dilemma that Stedman crafts is a suitably fascinating one that lacks an obvious resolution. The Sherbournes are wrong to pass off someone else's baby as their own, but they desperately want a child and evidently can't deliver one of their own.
Sure, adoption seems like a reasonable option, but when fate puts a baby in your possession, you don't just ignore it. But then questions arise as to with whom the child would be best served. Clearly, the Sherbournes love each other and their daughter. But the girl is Hannah's biologically and that genetic bond seems impossible to overlook, as does the widow's need for a family. Things resolve melodramatically and less than satisfactorily.

The final film of DreamWorks Pictures distributed by Disney both domestically and abroad, Light Between the Oceans can't be taken seriously as an awards contender on account of its too-early Labor Day weekend release. This weekend is notoriously slow at the box office, so it's tough to understand why Disney picked that timing, but if this film gets much notice at all, it will be for a few weeks, not months.

Related Reviews:
Now in Theaters: Hands of Stone • Hell or High Water • Florence Foster Jenkins • Jason Bourne • Suicide Squad • Pete's Dragon
Written and Directed by Derek Cianfrance: Blue Valentine
Michael Fassbender: Steve Jobs • The Counselor • X-Men: First Class | Alicia Vikander: Ex Machina • The Man from U.N.C.L.E. • The Fifth Estate
Rachel Weisz: Oz the Great and Powerful • Fred Claus
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button • Labor Day • The Lightkeepers • The Finest Hours • The Great Gatsby

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Reviewed September 2, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 DreamWorks Pictures, Reliance Entertainment, Participant Media, Heyday Films, and Touchstone Pictures.
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