Friday, September 2, 2016

Movie with Abe: The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans
Directed by Derek Cianfrance
Released September 2, 2016

Stories of solitude are often very powerful, but they require special effort from those representing that sense of loneliness to be truly effective. These films usually work best as love stories, when two people are meant to be together yet some person or force keeps them apart. In “The Light Between Oceans,” adapted from the novel of the same name by M.L. Stedman, a vast sea can’t keep a couple fated to be together from finding each other, but it does bring with it a different kind of longing – for a family.

Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) is an English war veteran known for not saying much who accepts a post as a lighthouse keeper in Australia in the aftermath of World War I. On one fateful visit to the mainland, Tom meets Isabel (Alicia Vikander), and the two exchange letters before getting married. Isabel likes solitary life with Tom but finds herself feeling empty and unfulfilled without a child. Multiple miscarriages threaten to send her into a serious depression, and the sudden arrival of a boat with a dead man and a young baby inside present what initially seems like a perfect solution to right two injustices in the world.

This is an extraordinarily emotional story, with the isolation of their home by the lighthouse underscoring its intensity considerably. Enormous credit is due to the actors involved, whose award-winning past roles surely served as strong reference points for their being cast in this project. Fassbender does a remarkable job of conveying muted enthusiasm, expressing his love for his wife in letters read aloud and his joy at being a father in quiet moments of play. Vikander, who took home an Oscar last year for “The Danish Girl,” demonstrates the same marvelous aptitude for fully inhabiting her character and displaying enormous involvement in every scene. As the true mother of a daughter presumed dead, Rachel Weisz also offers a heartbreaking portrait of what loss looks like.

These three Oscar-friendly performers are all more than qualified to play their roles and do so commendably. Director Derek Cianfrance, who has proven himself adept at telling broken love stories with films like “Blue Valentine,” delicately helms a dated love story and makes it feel relevant and enthralling. The film’s technical elements, primarily its cinematography by Adam Arkapaw and score by Alexandre Desplat, aid a strongly-written and beautifully-directed tale of romance and love that is both powerful and resonant.


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