Wednesday, 9 November 2016

'The Light Between Oceans' Review

 Due to her great work in 'Ex_Machina' and 'The Danish Girl', Alicia Vikander has made herself my favourite actress in the world. Being perfectly honest, I'm actually kind of obsessed with her too. Alongside Vikander is Michael Fassbender, one of Hollywood's best and another one of my favourites. So with this power couple in the film, you'd probably assume that I'd love it. Yeh, that's pretty much true.

Tom (Michael Fassbender) is a World War 1 veteran who returns home to take up a job working in a lighthouse on a remote island. When preparing to take up the job, he meets Isabel (Alicia Vikander) who instantly falls in love and moves to the lighthouse with him. The couple is desperate to have a baby and after some unsuccessful attempts, they find a baby in a rowboat that has washed up on the shore. Tom thinks it is best to report the missing child to the authorities but Isabel refuses and looks to raise the child as her own. Fate comes into play as years later, the couple meet the biological mother (Rachel Weisz). Now they must make a decision that will affect all of their lives.

As award season draws nearer and nearer, there's gonna be a lot more films that are going to be linked with the likes of the Oscar's. In 'The Light Between Oceans', that is most certainly the case. 
  Real life couple Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander play the lead characters Tom and Isabel and their performances are a large part of the films success. The roles come naturally to the two as they easily show their love for one another through simple things like the way the look at each other. There is a believable bond between the two which is vital for getting the audience to care about the protagonists. The performances are at their best through the first half of the film as the connection has to be built up.

 We see the couple get together very quickly, so the film takes a chunk of time to showcase their feelings for one another. This is an aspect of the film that is handled incredibly well as it fleshes out the characters whilst showing their growing admiration for each other, as well as some of their struggles. It can be a little slow but the film makes sure that it nails the story of Tom and Isabel before the baby shows up. This really helps the performances as they have plenty of time and material to work with that really allows them to shine. It may be too soon to guarantee them nominations for the prestigious acting awards but the pair should both be in the discussion.

Likewise, cinematographer Adam Arkapaw may also find himself lucky enough to end up nominated as he does some fine work in the film. Arkapaw does a magnificent job throughout the film, creating some incredibly beautiful shots. With this movie being filmed in New Zealand and Australia - which has been home to the Lord of the Rings and Narnia to name a few - the landscapes allow Arkapaw to go all out and produce world class work.

As the film takes its time to set everything up before the baby finally arrives, it only makes it even more effective. Of course, you side with Fassbender's Tom in the fact that they should alert the authorities of the baby showing up, in case there was a very worried mother out there mourning for no reason. However, we see the pain that Isabel has been through and can understand why she wants to keep the baby, as it has seemed impossible for the couple to bear a child. This is where Fassbender's performance is most effective as he is caught in between doing the right thing for the mother or the right thing for his wife. This creates a fascinating dilemma as we see Tom try to deal with this awkward situation.

Rachel Weisz joins the film to keep the ball rolling and adds to the drama as the mother of the child enters the scene. Weisz is heartbroken in her scenes as she interacts with Tom, Isabel and Lucy, the daughter she does not know is hers. The characters are all oblivious to this except Tom who now has to deal with facing the mother of the child, which makes him reconsider things after seeing her pain. This is very complex as Tom has to decide between ending this woman's distraught and reunite her with her baby, or continue to allow his wife be happy with the child that she has raised. 

The film succeeds due to its ability to really play with your emotions. You feel happy for the young, in love couple as they start their life together. However, you are then left heartbroken as you realise that they cannot have their own child, where Vikander excels at showing Isabel's misery. Once the child shows up, you feel a bit of happiness as the couple finally have what they wanted, although you know that it is fairly wrong morally. The introduction of Weisz then adds, even more, power as the film bounces between Tom & Isabel and Weisz's Hannah. As Tom takes things into his own hands, you are overpowered with emotions until the end of the film. With the child being taken away from our protagonists to the child Lucy rejecting her biological mother, you are taken on an emotional rollercoaster, with a lot bringing sadness.  There are moments of redemption that try to balance it out, but overall there are so many moments that do leave a powerful but sad effect on the audience. Tears may be shed throughout this film and at times, it is hard to blame anyone for doing so. 

The ending of the film seems to play out as you expect most romance dramas to do so. Everything seems to miraculously fall into place, where everyone is redeemed and forgiven for what has happened. It's very predictable in the end which does hurt the film but nothing too drastic. The ending overall does work but it seems to be rushed, which makes it feel a bit too coincidental as these events all happen at the same time. Some may find this film fairly slow and uneventful, and if you don't like this kind of film, then it probably isn't for you. If you want a tragic story that will really play with your emotions, then this is the film for you.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'The Light Between Oceans'? If so, what did you think of it? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film. Once again, thank yu for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor