Last Friday my husband and I went to see “The Light Between Oceans”.
We were both very interested in the film because of the impressive cast lead by Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz. We both also like dark dramas, and what could be more of a dark drama than a film about post-traumatic stress disorder, miscarriages, death and child stealing. We already knew a lot about the film from the preview so it all came down to the execution.
The execution was very good, but not quite great. The film creates a very real world and certainly makes you get a taste of what it would be like for Tom (Fassbender) and Isabel (Vikander) to live on a tiny little island with nothing but the light house they are left in charge of. I liked the film but I didn’t love it the way that I wanted to. Be aware that spoilers follow—I suppose a reason that I didn’t love the film is because while I sympathize with Tom and Isabel after their second miscarriage I just could never support any of their actions once they decide not to report the arrival a small boat with a dead man and a baby inside. As much as they want a child the child that arrives on that boat is not theirs to raise and they both know it in the heart of hearts.
I understand that Isabel is heartbroken but it is just plain wrong that she basically demands of her husband that he break his code of honor, not to mention the law, in not reporting the arrival of a dead man and a baby. On the flip side I get that Tom feels bad for his wife but he’s inability to stand up for what he knows is right is also very wrong. The fact that the two leads are not that likeable is a problem, especially when the film is billed as a great love story, but that doesn’t mean the film isn’t worth watching. I knew at some point that the suspected mother of the baby would show up in the form of Rachel Weisz but I wasn’t expecting it to happen so early in the film. The arrival of Hannah (Weisz) earlier than I was expecting is a good thing because it gives us a full view of just how much wrong actions, no matter how well intended, can negatively impact people’s lives. Despite the fact that the film is set nearly a hundred years ago there are issues that are quite relevant today. Issues such as what makes a parent?
Where do you draw the line between the rights of a parent and what is best for a child and Can you forgive the unforgivable? Not to mentioned the ending of the film seems to let Tom and Isabel off the hook a bit too much.
The film is a great acting showcase for the three stars. Fassbender makes us really understand why Tom makes the decisions he does which is impressive since so many of his decisions are ones that he knows are wrong.
Vikander is phenomenal in her role, the fact that I had so many issues with her character really speaks to what a great job she did playing Isabel.
I also loved seeing Bryan Brown pop up as Hannah’s dad, I haven’t seen him on screen in quite a while.
So at the end of the day despite some of my issues with the actions that Tom and Isabel take and the ending I did very much like the film. It’s wasn’t the home run that I wanted it to be but it’s still better than most films. I do recommend it for those who like the actors involved or a good dark drama.
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Here is a description:
Justin Gomez and his sister, Terri, have never been close. Separated by nine years and distant in adulthood, Justin and Terri have little in common, except for the love of her three children. In the days before they embark on a road trip to visit the father that once abandoned them and their now deceased mother, both Terri and Justin are dealing with unexpected changes in their lives. Justin surprisingly realizes he might want more than a series of one night stands after a first date goes unexpectedly well. After a lifetime of being a strong type A personality, Terri is forced to confront the reality of the end of her marriage. As they hit the road, with Terri’s children in tow, they find themselves forced to rely on and confide in each other following a devastating event. Confronted with memories from the past and challenges from the present, Terri and Justin must dig deep and unearth the truth about themselves and their parents in order to build a new family based on their love for each other.