‘THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS’ (2016) MOVIE REVIEW – Fassbender + Vikander = Incredible
‘The Light Between Oceans’ is a Romantic Drama starring Michael Fassbender (Tom), Alicia Vikander (Isabel), and Rachel Weisz (Hannah) based on the bestselling novel of the same name. The film follows a couple who fall in love and live at a lighthouse on an island, an island where one day a baby washes up to shore and they decide to raise it as their own. With the level of talent involved there is one thing you can be sure of going into the film, that you are going to get some top notch performances, and you most definitely get that from Vikander and Fassbender who are fantastic in the film. The story does take a little while to get going with an initial 25 minutes or so that skipped over a lot of time and essentially asks you to just accept that everything happened the way it did which is necessary i guess to avoid taking the film over 3 hours. The film relies on emotional elements to get you hooked into the drama and to root for or against certain characters and really get you questioning what is right and what is wrong, morally.
Alicia Vikander is very very quickly, role after role proving herself to have consistent immense talent and one day will be one of the best working actresses. So much of the film relies on her ability to sell emotion both in the traumatic moments and the hopeful ones and she accomplishes both incredibly. She is so powerful in her scenes and you know she is doing a great job because you constantly put yourself in her position and try to imagine the difficulty of making some of the moral decisions she tries to make and you understand every choice she makes and why. The same can be said about Michael Fassbender who never puts in a bad performance and that trend has continued here. He has many emotionally strong scenes and morally questioning scenes that he sells with ease. He completely disappears into the role and watching how certain events affect his character and Alicia’s character and how they work together to overcome them is either amazingly heartwarming or amazingly heartbreaking.
Where the emotional elements are the things that drive the films plot forward they are also the things holding the film back from being really great. This is a Romantic Drama yes, but so much of this story revolves around tragedy that the entire film is constantly knocking you down telling you to feel sad that is is a little exhausting at times. Sometimes you just want a little hope, even 15 minutes for these characters to live in pure happiness but nope, not in this story. That’s all i can go into without spoiling anything but i will say that although it is effectively traumatic at some point it just becomes a little too much. This isn’t a major negative but it is something that holds the film back a little.
In the end i think ‘The Light Between Oceans’ is a good film with fantastic emotionally powerful performances from all involved and may draw some occasional tears here and there. You get attached to all of the characters at some point throughout the film, you even get attached to Rachel Weisz’s character who doesn’t actually come into the film until later on. So there is much to enjoy with this film but there are elements including the first 25 minutes or so that could have been handled better and would have enhanced the quality of the film.