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The Light Between Oceans presents a well-acted and handsomely mounted adaptation of its bestselling source material, but ultimately tugs on the heartstrings too often to be effective.
All Critics (220)
| Top Critics (41)
| Fresh (134)
| Rotten (86)
| DVD (2)
I suspect a doomed romance of another sort has unfurled: Acclaimed indie director falls for slush bucket best-seller and thinks he can "redeem" it with great cinematography and Oscar-winning actors.
Stand back from this fable and examine it for logic, and you see how nonsensical it is.
Contrivances and melodrama aside, it is emotionally true and that's often the most important thing for a film of this nature.
The movie ends up seeming like an inchoate hybrid of melodrama and psychodrama-between the oceans, indeed.
The movie errs most with its main plot, which requires the characters to behave with utmost stupidity, sacrificing its hard-earned storytelling for a frustrating payoff.
The Light Between Oceans is stunning to see, and the performances are of the highest caliber, but it's all packaged in a story that just doesn't earn its stay, or our tears.
The Light Between Oceans occasionally pushes too hard in its desire to make you feel, but those moments can be forgiven thanks to the general emotional impact.
Strip away all the marks of prestige, and it's about as deep and as realistic as a Lifetime movie, reduced to just another predictable homage to the power of forgiveness.
...classically romantic. It feels like seeing a painting come to life, where the beautiful images and characters are somehow imbued with spirit.
Cínica y calculadora en su pretensión de encrucijada moral, The Light Between Oceans es el punto más bajo en el que hemos encontrado a Ciafrance como escritor y director.
With The Light Between Oceans, Cianfrance has completed his informal Sprawling Tragic Romance Trilogy that started with Blue Valentine in 2010.
This is a heart-wrenching drama about the difficult choices people make for the ones they love and the unintended consequences of those actions.
Like a restaurant that advertises steak but rather serves hamburger.
Cianfrance has become an "expert" in corny melodramas, and this is like a shameless telenovela that suffers even more from the fact that there is no chemistry between the two bland leads and nothing in there to make us feel any sympathy for a couple of baby kidnappers.
The Light Between Oceans deals with tragedy and 'what if' scenarios in a fascinating way that will have you weighing in on the "right thing to do" vs. "what feels right". The moral quandary is heightened by a series of events that veer dangerously close into melodrama. Yet screenwriter Derek Cianfrance masterfully weaves an ethical dilemma to keep the viewer's attention enrapt. It's also acted to perfection by Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender, both fresh from recent Academy Awards nominations last year. She won. He didn't. It certainly doesn't hurt that the two are amorously involved off screen as well. So yeah, they have chemistry together. That's pretty important in a love story and a key element as to why this romance works. There are some irksome developments. A frustrating resolution could have easily been averted with a simple conversation or two. But ah, such is life! The real world can be troublesome. The Light Between Oceans has flaws, but it will also make you feel. More often than not, that emotion comes naturally. We need more experiences like that at the cinema.
A melodrama through and through, The Light Between Oceans is at its core a pretty-looking movie about pretty-looking people being sad. The premise almost seems like a parody of prestige indie filmmaking in the 1990s. Tom (Michael Fassbender) is a shell-shocked WWI vet-turned-lighthouse keeper in Australia who falls in love with mainland lady, Isabel (Alicia Vikander). They marry and have difficulty conceiving, with Isabel enduring two grueling miscarriages. Then one day a dingy washes ashore with a crying baby inside and a dead man. Rather than alert the proper authorities, they decided to bury the man and raise the child as their own. Years later, the couple discovers the girl's real mother, Hannah (Rachel Weisz), who has been racked with unanswered grief ever since. The couple is then thrown into an emotional crucible testing their ethics and moral compromises and the question of ultimately what's in the best interest of this little girl. It's a movie that's geared to put you through an emotional wringer, and the actors do their part. Vikander (Oscar winner for The Danish Girl) is downright luminescent and dives deep into all of her character's varied and heightened emotions. The scenes of her dawning realization of the miscarriages and her helplessness are heartbreaking without being maudlin. Weisz is shaken to the core when her identity is robbed from her; she's so fragile and holding on to hope so hard you might think she'll collapse any moment. Fassbender internalizes the most and fully communicates the inner struggle of his character's guilt. Director and chief adapter Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines) has made an intimate relationship drama in a beautiful, sea-swept location, and the kind of Big Feeling classy melodrama you came to expect from Anthony Minghella. The problem is that Cianfrance's characters are held too much at arm's length for resonance. We empathize but not nearly as deeply as we could, and by the end the movie washes away like the surf.
Nate's Grade: B-
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