In theaters this week from writer/director Derek Clanfrance and DreamWorks comes a tale of loss, something found and love based on the M.L. Stedman best seller “The Light Between Oceans.”
Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) has returned from war and he is looking for solitude. Off the coast of Western Australia is a light house that needs a keeper. Believing this is the perfect place to be, Tom takes the position believing it to be temporary.
Out in the middle of the ocean is a beautiful island with a tall lighthouse that he gives his attention to. On the mainland lives Isabel Graysmark (Alicia Vikander), a young woman full of life who begins writing to Tom making him feel alive once again. When the position at the lighthouse is offered to him on a permanent basis, Tom happily accepts.
They are soon married and living happily on the lighthouse island. Trying to have a family brings sadness to their lives but at the same time a raging storm delivers life to their shores.
Isabel begs Tom to let them have the joy of the little girl who needs them. Reluctantly he agrees and Lucy (Florence Clery) grows into a happy little girl. During a mainland visit to Isabel’s family, the town comes together to celebrate the lighthouse and Tom’s contribution as its keeper.
They meet Hannah Roenneldt (Rachel Weisz) who is still in mourning over the loss of her husband and daughter at sea. Her father Septimus Potts (Bryan Brown) never approved of Hannah’s marriage to Frank (Leon Ford) and is a constant reminder.
Hannah sees Lucy and is immediately moved but it is Tom who understands most of all. Wanting to do the right thing becomes an impossible life as he is torn between the love of his wife and daughter and keeping a secret that is tearing them all apart.
The effects are like ripples on the ocean.
Fassbender as Tom is stoic yet introspective with the presence of a man wanting solace after fighting a war. The island lighthouse is the answer to a prayer but what he didn’t expect is to share it with such a free spirit. Fassbender is one of my favorite actors and it is because he takes such risks in every role he does. This character was absolutely meant for him to play and play it he does.
Vikander as Isabel is a spirited young woman who knows what she wants immediately with Tom. Escaping the bonds of her family, the island holds fascination and love with a life that is what ever the couple makes of it. The pain of wanting a child is hard for her, yet her life become a happy one again the moment the boat hits the shores. I enjoyed Vikander’s performance.
Weisz as Hannah doesn’t come in until much farther into the film but her characters pain can be felt throughout. As her story is revealed, it is just as true at heart as Tom and Isabel’s and therein lies the drowning of these hearts with love for one child. Ford as Frank is in flashbacks but enough to be such an important part of the story being told.
Brown as Potts brings in his sternness but, as with us all, age has a tendency to mellow and when in the presence of a child – there is nothing but love. Let us not forget Florence Clery as Lucy as her cherub face and innocence keep us all smiling one minute and horrified at her own pain the next.
Other cast include: Thomas Unger as Bluey Smart, Jane Menelaus as Violet Graysmark, Garry Macdonald as Bill Graysmark, Emily Barclay as Gwen Potts, Stephen Ure as Neville Whittnish, Jonathan Wagstaff as Constable Lynch, Gerald Bryan as Captain Hasluck and Jack Thompson as Ralph Addicott.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “The Light Between Oceans” four tubs of popcorn out of five. This is not an action packed or cgi laden story but instead a visually beautiful and ensemble cast acting piece done gracefully. If you need any other reason to be drawn into this piece, the soundtrack is stellar!
The slow pace is a draw with cinematography that entices the viewer to wonder what it might be like to live on an island responsible for only one thing – keeping the light shining. From the flow of the grass in the wind to a wet violence that only the sea can provide, there isn’t a frame of this film not worthy of praise.
In the end — love demands everything.