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The Light Between Oceans (2016) Reviewed By Jay

United States, 24 December 2015

 

Jay´s Review

Based on the best-selling novel by M.L. Stedman, this wrenching romantic drama is adapted and directed by Derek Cianfrance ("Blue Valentine"). In it we see a lighthouse keeper and the love of his life rescue an infant from a rowboat adrift off the coast of Australia. Because of their own personal tragedies, this seems like a gift from above. Did someone say "Be careful what you wish for?"

 

Our screening audience found it unpredictable and we discussed whether or not it is a chick flick. Granted there is no CGI, no gunfire, no vehicular mayhem and no blowie uppie stuff. There IS a lovely montage of a newly married couple finding comfort and happiness in each other. Maybe it IS a chick flick, but the men seemed to be interested in this moral dilemma and the legal issues involved.

 

Here is a part of the highly acclaimed cast:

  • * Michael Fassbender ("Steve Jobs") Pensive widower and WWI veteran Tom, is a decent man. He understands the moral issues involved and is determined to do the right thing. On the other hand, he knows what Isabel is suffering.
  • * Alicia Vikander ("The Man From UNCLE") Isabel is thrilled that her arms are no longer empty. Her response is atavistic and primitive, an overwhelming maternal need for a child. The presence of this wonderful actress elevates her costar's game. Fassbender rises to the challenge.
  • * Rachel Weisz ("Oz the Great and Powerful") Hannah is a grieving mother; is there a scant chance that her baby is still alive?
  • * Florence Cleary (in her debut) Lucy-Grace is the center of the controversy. Who is her mother? This child is so beautifully directed it's hard to tell that she even knows there is a camera anywhere around. Notice in particular the scene with the tiara made of flowers. Any parent would fight for the right to raise this one!
  • * Jack Thompson ("The Great Gatsby") Ralph has seen it all and nothing gets by him. His unsolicited advice is pretty good, too!
  • * Bryan Brown ("The Good Wife") Hannah's father Septimus understands his little granddaughter very well; AND she loves that he rides a horse!

This is PG-13, so expect adult topics and two extremely well-acted miscarriages. For an actress who, to the best of my knowledge has never had a child, Vikander avoids all of the screaming and histrionics so often employed by other actresses. Her affection for her husband and her little girl just radiate from the screen. In addition, you may smile at the difference between a "real" Aussie version of "Waltzing Matilda" and the simpler song taught in American schools.

 

Adam Arkapaw's cinematography is worthy of mention. We are dazzled by landscapes, seascapes, stormy seas, quiet seas, remote harbors, rocks, meadows, churches, the lighthouse and the incessant wind. We see quiet beaches, sunsets, moonrises, rainstorms, and busy waterfronts. All are terrific. 

 

Even though not one of the three leads attempted an Australian accent, we liked this one but if you have hearing problems go to a theater with Closed Captions or wait for the DVD.

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