The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans

In Theatres: 
Sep 02, 2016
Running Time: 
132 minutes

At the surface, The Light Between Oceans appears all too similar to something you would read out of a Nicholas Sparks novel. In reality, it’s based on a novel by M. L. Stedman, but it does share some of the same beats as your typical romantic drama with a little twist in conflict thrown in to keep the story interesting. It’s main problem, however, is that is doesn’t have as big an emotional impact despite being led by the wonderful Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander.


Tom (Fassbender) is a war veteran who has seen his fair share of horrors on the battlefront and is returning home looking for some solitude, which he finds in a job manning a lighthouse on an island miles and miles away from civilization. Still, he manages to fall in love with Isabel (Vikander) and the two intend on raising a family together. That proves to be more difficult than expected, however, as two miscarriages have left them both devastated. Life has a way of working itself out because shortly after Isabel’s second miscarriage a boat mysteriously washes up on shore containing a baby along with a dead man. Rather than turn the baby over to the authorities, Tom and Isabel decide to name her Lucy and claim her as their own.Their lie works for years, but eventually they discover who her mother really is, and the guilt of knowing begins to eat away at Tom as to whether their family can continue to live this lie.


The Light Between Oceans no doubt touches on some brutal subject matter. Seeing Isabel suffer not one but two miscarriages is devastating, and both Vikander and Fassbender deliver excellent performances. Despite that, their scenes don’t quite deliver as big an emotional punch as you would expect. There are a lot of close ups of tears and running noses, but the characters themselves feel distant. The biggest impact is when Lucy’s mother Hannah (Rachel Weisz) comes into the picture.


One of the most heartbreaking scenes is when Lucy, whose real name is Grace, is taken away from Isabel, who she’s only known as her mother, and handed over to Hannah. Her confusion over her own name and her mother is just brutal. You really feel sorry for her because she has absolutely no say in what is happening.


That’s where the emotion comes from mostly; Lucy/Grace, and not any of the adult characters. It’s a shame because most of the film’s focus is placed on them. Their story isn’t nearly as interesting as the child’s. It’s at no fault to any of the actors, either. Their performances are wonderful. It’s the story that lacks a real spark.


The Light Between Oceans is good but struggles to be great. It’s not your typical romance drama and features some difficult heartbreak. It’s simply lacks the emotional grit you would expect given its content.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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