Sunday, June 18, 2017

Movie Review: The Light Between Oceans (2016)

The Light Between Oceans (2016) - Written and Directed by Derek Cianfrance; Starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz.

By Kenny Howell

I don't know why Derek Cianfrance wants me to be so bummed.

He's done it with Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines, and now he tells the story of a couple that make a terrible decision out of desperation that has no other option than ending terribly for them.

That couple is Tom and Isabel, played by Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina). Tom has returned from the war and takes a job at the lighthouse, where he meets Isabel. They fall in love, and after marrying, they try to have children but are unsuccessful. However, one day a boat drifts up to the shore in front of their home that contains a crying baby and dead man.

Out of grief, Isabel makes the fateful decision of convincing Tom that they keep the baby and bury the man instead of actually reporting it. They will pretend the baby is theirs and raise her as such. But the child's mother is still out there, and eventually there is a likelihood that this isn't going to end well.

How you feel about The Light Between Oceans probably hinges on how you feel about Isabel. Desperation makes you do very irrational things, and this is definitely one of them. It essentially is kidnapping, and that is hard to forgive, and I don't think the movie does enough to build the case that is something like that is forgivable. The fall deep in love with the child, as she does them, which makes it all the more difficult that it isn't going to end well.

Despite that, Cianfrance does get a lot of drama out of it, mostly because of the innocent child left in between, and the actual mother that is punished for no reason other than it was a horrible tragedy that happened to her husband and daughter.

The cast, as you would expect, is outstanding and probably keep this from becoming maudlin or even slow as the movie does drag at times. They do what they can, but that moral decision still hangs over its characters and the viewer who is trying to come to grips with it as well.

Rating: **1/2

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