The Light Between Oceans


(spoiler free)

Generally romantic period dramas aren’t really my kind of thing, however when they have Michael Fassbender & Alicia Vikander in the lead roles they are definitely my kind of thing. These performers are two of my favourites working in the film industry today so naturally I’d be excited to see them in anything. Although, when early reviews claimed ‘The Light Between Oceans’ to be nothing but Oscar bait I was a little worried. However, I kept my expectations fairly open and hoped for the best. The director tasked with bringing this period drama to life was Derek Cianfrance, probably best know for directing ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’.

Cianfrance also wrote this film, adapted from the novel of the same name from 2012. I was a big fan of the narrative and thought it really had a lot to offer. It would be naive to say that it doesn’t come without problems though. It’s the bookends to the narrative that reveal these most obviously,  the initial romance between the lead characters feels a little rushed and the story has a little trouble finishing having a lot of loose ends to tie up. Despite these flaws in the narrative the core of it is so strong that these can be forgiven. The story here is written in such a thoughtful way that allows the audience to become involved in every character decision we watch play out. The moral ambiguity of these decisions is where the narrative gleans its strength from as viewers will decide what they would do and if our characters have acted correctly. Allegiances with characters will likely shift throughout the run time thanks to the complex ethics included but this only makes for more stimulating viewing. All of this means that, despite onlookers possibly branding this film as nothing other than beautiful people crying, there is actually quite a lot to this film and regardless of its length it has a nice pace to it.

I’ve already mentioned my appreciation for the lead actor and actress here and they didn’t disappoint in terms of their performances. Fassbender and Vikander are now in a relationship after meeting on this film which goes to show how authentic their chemistry is. Both performers give their all and make for a gripping, emotional and often heartbreaking watch. Whilst Fassbender and Vikander undoubtedly get the most screen time, supporting actress Rachel Weisz cannot be forgotten as she is brilliant in her role, arguably the most challenging of the three. This trio help bring this narrative to life in the most effective and emotionally charged way possible. Adding to this sea of emotion present was the score composed by Alexandre Desplat, a well known name in this area, proving why he is such a renowned film scorer. At times the music crafted by Desplat would be so delicate that you would hardly notice it, but its presence was always felt. Whereas in other moments it demands your attention in the most effective way maintaining and contributing further to the tone of the film.

Whether or not the intentions behind the makers of this film were blurred by those shiny golden men given out each year I’m not so sure. However regardless of this, director Cianfrance has crated a very entertaining film. He managed to get the most from his cast with three brilliant performances always being complemented by a good score. The highlight of the film though had to be the core narrative and how well it was written allowing audiences to be absorbed into the drama of a once simple life of a lighthouse keeper and his wife.

Rating – 8.5/10

Question: What is your favourite performance from either Fassbender or Vikander?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)

Thanks for reading this review and please let me know what you thought about the movie! Leave a comment below or drop me a tweet over at @HCMovieReviews.



8 thoughts on “The Light Between Oceans

  1. Oh, and as far as my favorite Fassbender performance goes, there are just too many to choose just one! I think he is devastatingly fantastic in “Shame,” but I also loved him in “Inglourious Basterds” and “Frank” (although he spend most of the movie underneath that giant head). I’m also an X-Men nerd so his being cast as Magneto was just brilliant. Wow, now that I think about it, I guess I’m just a pretty big fan of Fassbender. — L

    • Thanks Louisa, glad that we are in agreement about this one. Fassbender is a king like, I love the movie ‘Frank’ so much too, very funny and his performance felt even more impressive due to his face being covered if you get me? He’s also a brilliant Magneto, that role is my favourite thing about the new X-Men movies.

  2. Great review! I feel the same way as you about period dramas, but I want to see it for the leads, I love them both. I’m glad to see it’s worth a watch. My favourite performance from each would be Frank and Ex Machina!
    – Allie

    • Thanks Allie, yes it is most definitely worth a watch. Both of those movies are great and the performances from Fassy and Vikander are awesome, what unreal casting to have both as leads in the same film!?

  3. Glad you enjoyed this one Hamish! I had a few more problems with it, but from the perspective of a performance piece it really can’t be faulted and that’s likely what most people come to this movie to see!

    • I really did Lee, you know how much I value good performances. If I’m convinced by the characters I can often excuse other elements. I saw from your review, very well thought out btw, the issues you had. I can understand those as I thought the initial chemistry was rushed too so can see your points regarding the narrative.

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