The Light Between Oceans

DreamWorks Pictures’ “The Light Between Oceans” is a heart-breaking drama about fate, love, moral dilemmas and the lengths to which one couple will go to see their dreams realized. Starring Academy Award (R) and Golden Globe (R) nominee Michael Fassbender, Oscar (R) winner Alicia Vikander, Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Rachel Weisz, Bryan Brown and Jack Thompson, the film is written for the screen and directed by Derek Cianfrance based on the acclaimed novel by M.L. Stedman.

In the years following World War I, Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender), a young veteran still numb from his years in combat, takes a job as lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a remote island off the coast of Western Australia. As the island’s sole inhabitant, he finds comfort in the monotony of the chores and the solitude of his surroundings. When he meets the daughter of the school’s headmaster, Isabel Graysmark (Alicia Vikander), in the local town of Partageuse on the mainland, Tom is immediately captivated by her beauty, wit and passion, and they are soon married and living on the island. As their love flourishes, he begins to feel again, their happiness marred only by their inability to start a family, so when a rowboat with a dead man and infant girl mysteriously washes ashore, Isabel believes their prayers may have finally been answered. As a man of principle, Tom is torn between reporting the lost child and pleasing the woman he loves, and against his better judgment he agrees to let Isabel raise the child as their own, making a choice with devastating consequences. It is a choice that will forever change two worlds.


This is where a normal story becomes thought provoking and exciting. It is brilliant in describing the angst of the adopted children, the adopting parents and the biological parents. It also begs the question “is denying the adopted children the name of real parents one of life’s’most profound deceptions. Lucy’s depiction of unqualified maternal devotion is powerful but Tom’s creeping sense of love for Lucy is beautifully portrayed.

The films greatest achievement is the validation given to their disparate views despite the fact they are largely determined by personal interest. Moral ambiguity is rarely so compelling.

This is the first time Derek Cianfrance has adapted a novel but he has long been interested in creating a cinema of intimacy and probing the themes of love, family, legacy, loneliness and choices – the same themes that made Stedman’s novel so resonant to so many.

Derek Cianfrance is said to have said “I feel my mission as a film-maker is to explore the most intimate relationships in both a private and expansive way. This he has done brilliantly in this film.

The important fact drawn out by this film is how the most isolated and intense love must weather the harsh consequences of life’s choices.

People are drawn to this film not only because it is so honest about the pain of love and love lost but also because it then becomes a beautiful rendering of redemption and healing. I can only describe this film as an unforgettable and deeply moving experience.

The directors ability to paint a picture of the exquisite Australian landscape as well as the emotional dilemmas that were faced by Tom and later Hannah as well as Lucy were very well executed.

I give the film 4and a half stars out of 5.

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