“THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS” My rating: C+
132 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13
There’s a world of weeping on display in “The Light Between Oceans.”
The good news is that most of the sobbing is done by Alicia Vikander. If you’ve got to stare for two hours at a tear-stained face, it might as well be that of this Oscar-winning actress. She makes suffering almost transcendent.
The not-so-good news is that in making its transition from best seller to big screen, M.L. Stedman’s story has lost a good deal of its power.
For all the lacerating emotions displayed by Vikander and co-stars Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz, relatively little of it is experienced by the viewer.
What was deeply moving on the printed page seems mechanically melodramatic when dramatized. You want to be moved, but can’t shake the feeling that mostly you’re being manipulated.
After four years in the trenches of World War I, Tom Sherbourne (Fassbender) returns to his native Australia a hollow man. Seeking solitude and time to rediscover himself, he signs up as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Island, a windswept hunk of rock 100 miles from the nearest coast.
But he won’t be alone for long. In one of the most satisfying passages in Derek Cianfrance’s film, he meets, woos and weds Isabel (Vikander), a local girl who seems to relish life on the island. Their’s is a civilization of two…the only thing that could make it better would be a baby to share the experience.
Fate has other plans. Isabel suffers a miscarriage (during a hurricane, no less) and later gives birth to a stillborn child. Things are looking pretty glum.
And then a rowboat floats in on the tide. Inside is a dead man and a baby girl. (more…)