Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Light Between Oceans

Starring: Michael "my love" Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz 
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Running Time: 2 hours, 13 minutes
Rating: PG-13

I had been dying to see "The Light Between Oceans" since the debut of Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as a real-life couple last winter. I knew their on-screen chemistry would be palpable, and I got teary-eyed each time I saw the trailer. When I realized Derek Cianfrance was behind this production, I was even more thrilled (Cianfrance directed the gut-wrenching "Blue Valentine" and the haunting but fabulous "The Place Beyond The Pines"). "The Light Between Oceans" is gorgeous - both the coastal lighthouse setting AND the leads - and if it hadn't come out too soon to really be considered for awards, I would expect acting, directing, musical score and cinematography wins.

Fassbender plays Tom Shelbourne, a widower hired to be a lighthouse keeper right out of World War I. He catches the eye of a local girl, Isabel, and their attraction and curiosity is instant. Isabel is a quick thinker, and finds her way into Tom's heart before he can even say "lighthouse." The two seem very content in their little home, isolated from the rest of the world, but to them, they are each others' worlds. You can feel their joy.

Two of Vikander's strongest scenes (and keep in mind, she steals every scene) portray her miscarriages. It is utterly heartbreaking, and Tom feels helpless. When a baby in a small boat washes ashore, it immediately lifts her spirits, while Tom thinks of the danger and consequences of not reporting this odd occurrence. Isabel's hold over Tom forces him into agreeing to keep the baby to raise as their own. Life continues to be good for this family, though we know it can't be forever.

Ultimately, the mother of the baby (now 4 years old) is revealed. Rachel Weisz is beautifully understated as Hannah, who assumes her husband and newborn were lost at sea. Clues lead the authorities to Tom and Isabel, and Hannah is reunited with her child. We feel for the little girl - she clearly does not want to be with a strange woman, but she was the victim of a kidnapping. Director Cianfrance does an excellent job of allowing us to see both parties' perspectives.

I absolutely adored this film. It's one of my favorites of the year. Eye candy, tears, goosebumps - this movie has it all. It reminds me how gorgeous Fassbender's eyes are, and how unstoppable Vikander is becoming in Hollywood. Go see this movie.

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