With The Light Between Oceans, director Derek Cianfrance has created another work of emotional resonance, a powerful and effective film boasting two incredible performances. Cianfrance approaches the film with a simple depth, creating moments of beauty within each shot, and persistently developing his characters, giving the audience a complete portrayal of their love and life. It’s an ambitious feature, but the film never cheats, building to its emotions highlights, creating a film that’s deeply affecting and quite thought provoking.
Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) is a World War I veteran, seeking work in a small town as a lighthouse keeper. After falling with a local girl named Isabel Graysmark (Alicia Vikander), the two try unsuccessfully to conceive a child. When all hope seems lost, a small infant and her deceased father wash up on the shore of their island, prompting the couple to raise the child as their own. But when the child’s birth mother (Rachel Weisz) comes looking for her lost infant, Tom and Isabel must face the moral and legal consequences of their actions.
Fassbender is phenomenal here, and just like greats such as James Stewart or John Wayne, he proves he can play the everyman, giving a subtle depth to the character. Vikander is equally tremendous, giving a performance that is full of life and joy, making her hardships all the more tragic and effective. The chemistry between the two is truly remarkable; each moment shared between the two resonates as a fear of Cianfrance’s ability to capture emotion.
The Light Between Oceans is a complete film; each moment is individually crafted to create a masterwork of character construction and emotional power. It’s a gorgeously shot film, and the simplicity in which each scene is handled make for a thoroughly planned, and exceptionally affectionate film. Grade: -A