What would you do for the love of a child? What would you do for the happiness of your child? Not the everyday “I want this. I want that.” happiness, but true, to-the-core happiness. Having never been blessed with children of my own, I found myself asking these questions while watching The Light Between Oceans. Not out loud, mind you. That would be rude.
Let me start by saying that this film will be nominated for at least one Oscar. Maybe more. It’s just that kind of movie. It was very well made and well written. The scenery was amazing. The actors were pretty darn good. And it just about tore me in two.
The Light Between Oceans is based on the novel of the same name, written by M. L. Stedman. It’s the story of a couple who tend a lighthouse on the small, and fictitious, island of Janus off the coast of Australia. For anyone who loves lighthouses like I do, you can just imagine how enthralled I was with the lighthouse and its little island. I want to go there. And I still haven’t really started talking about the movie. Tom was a soldier who served during World War I and all he wants now is a job and some solitude. Fortunately for him, an Australian town needs a temporary lighthouse keeper. Perfect! Time passes and the temporary job becomes permanent, Tom meets Isabel, they eventually wed, and Isabel moves out to the island with Tom. How lovely.
But! All is not sunshine and roses for our little couple. Sometimes, life can be cruel. While Tom continues to mind the light, Isabel seems lost. Until the day a boat carrying a small baby washes ashore, changing their lives forever.
While this sounds like it might be barreling its way towards a happy ending, just hold your horses. You should know right now, if you haven’t already seen the trailer, that while this movie does have a happy-ish ending, it takes a lot to get you there. I want, so very much, to be able to tell you more, but the trailers already give too much away.
Michael Fassbender is Tom Sherbourne. I loved Michael as Tom. I pleaded with him to do the right thing and, when he did, I hurt for him. I understood his initial need for solitude and then his desire to do anything to make Isabel happy, while struggling with his own conscience. It was safe for me to sit in my seat in the theater and say what I would have done, but I do wonder. Would I really have? Would I have really put anything above the desires of a loved one? I have no idea.
Alicia Vikander is Isabel. I liked her when she was happy. I felt horrible for when her world fell apart. I completely disliked her when she forced Tom to choose. Granted, she was a tad off her rocker at that point so it was easier to realize why she did what she did, but still. Even when her world seemed sunny side up, she never seemed to feel like what she was doing was wrong.
Rachel Weisz… Oh, dear Hannah Roennfeldt, my heart broke for you. Rachel portrayed Hannah beautifully. I just wish she’d been given a little more screen time. I want to know what happened during that two years. What was she doing? What was going through her mind? And finally, when her patience (I'm guessing) was rewarded but she considered someone other than herself, my heart was broken again.
I wish I could explain her better than that, but it would give away too much.
I had to look up why The Light Between Oceans received its PG-13 rating. It was for “thematic material and some sexual content. “ I know that doesn’t tell you much but I’m not going to either. Even if not for the sexual content and what they’re calling thematic, I wouldn’t recommend this for young children. They won’t like it. My apologies to the producer, director, writers, etc. but you know it’s true. I doubt their own children would sit through this film without major fidgeting unless they’ve never seen any other kind of movie, ever.
Except for the fact that the drama never seemed to end, I did like this movie. I would say “enjoyed” but that seems cruel, given the topic. The only real problem I had with the film is that it seemed to have cut out quite a bit and dragged on some things that didn’t need to be. I was left with more questions than I started out with. Like, what on earth happened to Tom and Isabel? What was the rest of their life like? What did Hannah decide to do? How did Tom and Ralph become such good friends (I really would have liked to have seen more with just the two of them)? What happened to Bluey? Why did Lucy-Grace do what she did at the end? Besides the fact that her mother raised her to be a good, kind person, I’m guessing. I really do hope the book explains all of this. It’s definitely high on my to-be-read list.
If you like a good drama, go see The Light Between Oceans. It won’t disappoint. Well, except for all the questions above. If you appreciate good movie making, you might give it a shot. If you know what kinds of movies win Oscars and usually like what is chosen, go see this. It’ll be on the list. Now, I’m off to find the book. Happy viewing!