#REVIEW: “THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
A prevalent theme with many Films this summer is the risks and heartbreaking choices people make in the name of love. Based on the book by M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans demands its characters learn the expansive power of love even at the cost of their own happiness.
When Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) returns home after the Great War, he is shattered after four long years of service. He decides to become the lighthouse keeper on Janus Island. He is not daunted by the idea of solitude but initially relishes it because, as he explains in a letter to Isabel Graysmark, “Out here I’m only responsible for the light.” It doesn’t take long for Tom to fall for Isabel (Alicia Vikander) and accept her proposal of marriage. The quiet existence of a lighthouse keeper appeals to both of them and they quickly settle into a warm marriage which is only darkened by a series of miscarriages that devastate Isabel.
One day a dinghy floats up to the island carrying a dead man and an infant girl whom Isabel desperately wants to keep despite her husband’s misgivings. Tom relents and for five years the two raise Lucy and allow everyone to believe the man and baby disappeared at sea. During successive returns to the mainland, Tom learns the true identity of the boat’s occupants and is assailed with guilt after meeting the man’s widow, Hannah Roennfeldt (Rachel Weisz).
During the tear-rending final hour, the three are forced to make decisions that aren’t always best for their own hearts but that they believe are for the greater good. If the first sixty minutes drag, it is during this final hour that the three stars truly shine. Fassbender’s performance in particular seems designed to pull on the empathetic heartstrings of the audience as Sherbourne sacrifices his personal moral philosophies time and again for the happiness of his wife.
The brilliance of cinematographer Adam Arkapaw cannot be under emphasized in the discussion of this Film. His expansive shots of the ocean and Janus island are as captivating the close-ups of a grieving Weisz and add depth to Writer/Director Derek Cianfrance’s magnificent Film.
In the lead up to TIFF, it seems sensible to skip small dramas in favour of Comedies or Animation. After all, with eleven days of the best Films in the world to look forward to, levity seems like likely choice. The Light Between Oceans is the exception to this rule: this lovely movie is the perfect aperitif before a Festival of Oscar hopefuls. Bring tissues and prepare yourself for a moving story about the true strength it takes to love another human being.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Canada release The Light Between Oceans on Friday, September 2, 2016.