If I could sum up this movie in one word, it’d be “mesmerizing”
The Light Between Oceans is the film adaptation of the 2012 M. L. Stedman novel and tells the story of Tom & Isobel, portrayed by Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander respectively, a lovely couple who live in virtual isolation on a small island complete with a lighthouse, occasional visits for sustenance, and a whole lot of rain & wind. When a baby washes ashore, they are faced with the prospect of raising this child and the consequences that may incur.
I was able to catch an advanced screening of this film last Wednesday (the 24th) and have not been able to speak about it until now. I have not been able to get this movie out of my head… I think The Light Between Oceans may just be my favourite film of the year. There are many examples of film where the style overtakes the substance and you’re left with a great looking surface-level movie that is a hollow shell of a picture. TLBO is one of those rare masterpieces (I’m going there!) where the beauty of every shot is not the only thing the film has to offer. The story is so enthralling and downright heartbreaking at times; I honestly could not control all the emotions coming out of me. There are instances where you will find yourself giggling and audibly “aw!”ing one minute, then busting out your ugly Tobey Maguire crying face the next.
The combination of a fantastic script, phenomenal locations, brilliant directing by Derek Cianfrance, who helmed Place Beyond the Pines and everyone’s favourite Valentine’s Day movie Blue Valentine, and the addition of incredibly fleshed out, well-developed characters is one of the best surprises I have ever had in the theatre. The film is an epic moving journey with a complete beginning, middle & end and you may find yourself attached to the characters moreso than you imagined going in.
Now for the two standouts in this incredibly beautiful film, Michael Fassbender & Alicia Vikander. Holy dickens these two were outstanding and I am just happy I was able to watch a film with two of my current favourite working actors… Just look up the word “amazing” in the thesaurus and all those terms pertain to both of them. Fassbender portrays the quiet and brooding yet unbelievably strong figure torn between the hardest of rocks & places brilliantly and Alicia Vikander… I swear this woman can honestly do no wrong. Her portrayal of Isobel is so phenomenal that I’m not able to place it in words. Every feeling she emotes, every movement she does is quite honestly, flawless. She is able to encapsulate the immense fears and fantastical joys her character has and THAT is called motherfucking acting, man. I cannot compliment her enough on this role; she nailed everything about her character just as well as Ellen Burstyn did in Requiem for a Dream. That is how incredible this woman is… And the chemistry these two leads have? Fuggetaboutit, dude. There’s a reason they are together in real life. If they didn’t fall in love during filming this then their acting is greater than I can comprehend. The spellbinding Rachel Weisz owns her portrayal of Hannah immensely and manages to emote all the subtle nuances that consist of her character. This movie has an Oscar-calibre cast and they live up to it, let me tell you.
Can I also just say something about the aesthetic of The Light Between Oceans? Every single frame of this movie can serve as a disgustingly beautiful screen saver. Cianfrance knows how to frame shots and when to use those uncomfortably close close-ups that encourage his actor to utilize the subtleties of the human face to illustrate what they are feeling at that moment without saying one piece of dialogue. He manages to showcase this grandiose landscape to feel larger than life at one point, then turns around and makes it feel like the most miniscule point in the world. He does that to your emotions as well.
I can see why some would feel a little turned off by the romantic aspect to it; however it is so much more than a simple man-meets-woman-and-they-fall-in-love-because-like-cancer-or-something-will-kill-someone type thing. It honestly surprised me how a little bit of mystery and intrigue were thrown in there, a sprinkle of war-time themes for taste and a heavy dash of fantastic storytelling engulfed The Light Between Oceans and you were left with a delicious picture you want to consume all over again… Although I probably will need to wait awhile to watch it again. Maybe like for Saturday or something.
If you’re looking for a romantic epic with characters you will feel emotionally connected to and love giving your eyes the occasional feast to… feast on, check out The Light Between Oceans. It is one of my favourites of the year and Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander are allowed to come over for dinner anytime.
(clothing is optional, of course)
The Light Between Oceans receives a coveted 5/5 Matt Damon heads.
s/o to scene creek & gofobo for the advanced screening tickets!
image links: indiewire, youtube trailer ,  & … Also googling “tobey maguire crying face gif”