‘Light Between Oceans’ fails to light up audience


Courtesy of comingsoon.net

Actors Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander share an intimate moment as they fall in love in “The Light Between Oceans,” a film based on a novel by M.L. Steadman.

Grant Wetmore, Staff Writer

Simply put, “The Light Between Oceans” was a well-told story. Too bad it wasn’t a particularly exciting one. It had its moments of drama and tension, but they were easy to see well in advance.

The story begins in jolly old England right after World War I. Returning serviceman Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender), who’s tired of seeing death, takes a position as lighthouse keeper on a remote island. On his journey to the island, he falls in love with Isabel (Alicia Vikander), a woman from a quaint coastal village. Of course, she also falls in love with him.

After a brief, but still not brief enough, romance, the two get married and Isabel moves to Tom’s lighthouse where they try unsuccessfully to start a family. Just as Tom finishes putting up the gravestone for his would-be second born, he and Isabel hear the cries of a baby. They discover a rowboat washing ashore. Inside the rowboat is a dead man. In the dead man’s arms is a crying baby. After nursing the baby back to health, Tom and Isabel decide to take in the baby as their own. For various reasons, all of them not very good, Tom doesn’t report the rowboat or its passengers. As far as everyone else is concerned, Isabel just gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

Altogether, the movie ranks a good B. The movie’s main strength is not its story, but its scenery and soundscapes. In the background of every scene there is the ever-cloudy sky of the brisk coast or the stark beauty of the seashore. You can hear the ocean as well. The sounds of gentle rolling waves, shrieking seagulls, windy gales or heavy rain are almost always present. The only thing missing is the smell of saltwater brine.

The story itself, however, was a little drab in some parts. The first hour was especially slow. After that, the plot picked up the pace a little and became just shy of heartwarming with more than its fair share of baby drama in the mix.

In terms of acting, both Fassbender and Vikander are largely subtle. But in emotionally charged bits like Isabel’s birthing scenes, they explode with passion. Sometimes, this passion is over the top. In some places, you wonder if such emotion is actually called for.

In the end, if you love the ocean or baby stories or even lighthouses, then this a great film for you if you can sit through a rather drawn-out story. Just remember that “The Light Between Oceans” is currently only playing locally at Reading Cinema in Rohnert Park.