A war weary man takes a job as a lighthouse keeper on an island for the solitude. He meets a beautiful young woman and they eventually marry. One day they see a small dingy with an infant and man inside floating in the ocean. They rush to rescue them only to find the man is dead. They struggle over the decision to report it and whether to keep the baby. It's only years later that they discover that the child still has a mother looking for her.Written by
Throughout the film, the west coast town of Albany, Australia is incorrectly referred to as "ALL-bany" instead of "AL-bany." See more »
I'm just looking to get away from things for a little while.
[sitting behind his desk]
Well, it's no paradise out on that island. Just want to make sure you know what you're in for.
All due respect, Mr. Coughlan, it's not likely to be tougher than the Western Front.
Oh, you're probably right about that. You pay your own passage to every posting. You're a relief worker so you don't get holidays. I understand you're a single man. No family. So, that's a slight concern. Wouldn't ...
See more »
"She doesn't belong to us. We can't keep her." Tom (Michael Fassbender)
I was ready to witness a Nicholas Sparks imitator with The Light Between Oceans; rather I enjoyed a whiff of Thomas Hardy. A newly-married couple, Tom and Isabel (Alicia Vikander), living on a remote lighthouse island off the west coast of Australia in the second decade of the twentieth century, find a baby washed ashore in a rowboat. The tension comes not from storms at sea but the ramifications of their keeping the child a secret.
Notwithstanding the absurd good fortune that they find a baby after her two miscarriages, the story becomes increasingly complex with intersecting themes of passionate love and doing the right thing. Where this does not become a maudlin, sentimental romance is in a few realistic details. Most of us would question whether we would keep the child, given that we may never have one ourselves, just as this couple does.
Along the way, the accomplished acting throws a powerful cast over the proceedings so that as outrageously melodramatic as it may seem, the film relentlessly shows at each turn how conscience does indeed make cowards of us all. Just as what he has done preys on Tom's conscience, the needs of his wife to have a child overcome this otherwise beacon of upright manhood and good sense.
The end of WWI brings survivors like Tom an overpowering guilt that he survived while so many others didn't. With the presence of a child who belongs to someone else, he is tortured by thoughts of taking a loved one away as the war did for so many families.
Fassbender is the Oscar contender he was meant to be. His every facial muscle works to show immense joy at his marriage and deep sorrow at his crime. Vikander is equally convincing as a youthful bride with grit and joy who convinces her husband, sworn to save lives in the lighthouse, to endanger himself and her by his foolish act.
The cinematography is frequently gorgeous, and the romantic Andre Desplat music lovely but manipulative. While writer and director Derek Cianfrance navigates occasionally successfully through some choppy tear-jerking scenes (the close-ups of Vikander's tears are too many), it's still also a melodrama with too many fateful turns.
Besides, what handsome, sensitive war veteran would exile himself to a lighthouse? Only if he knew Alicia Vikander would join him!
25 of 37 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this