Posted Nov 04 2016
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The Light Between Oceans - This Movie Elementally Rocks The Lighthouse

Dir: Derek Cianfrance

Starring Mickey Fass, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz, Bryan Brown

First and foremost, Derek Cianfrance’s movie has a terrific sense of place – it is literally another player in his film – and two beautifully modulated central performances in Mickey, and, especially, Vikander. Into this windswept and ocean-tossed adaptation of the noted best seller, he throws our central duo, a couple united by their love and the remoteness of the world they live in as lighthouse keepers, essentially situated between two oceans, but in reality, in a world of their own. Their need for an idyll is tested by two miscarriages, but the real moral dilemma arrives in the form of a boat with a dead, unknown father and a baby girl in need of a mother that washes up on their isolated shore. For awhile life is perfect, but once they reconnect with the mainland, they find evidence of the child’s real, and very much grieving mother (Weisz) and then Mickey’s moral compass loses all sense of true north.

 This is a story awash in melodrama, but tonally set in a world isolated from such conventions, something that both the director and his lead actors manage to convey for the most part. Fassbender gives terrific stoic, but conveys so much damage – and yes, shame -  behind those eyes that you can’t help but feel his quandary. Vikander, on the other hand, radiates openness, vulnerability, need and sadness at times, and. more importantly, is so in command of the camera that it’s easy to see why the woman is already an Oscar winner. And deserves to be so again.

On his part, Cianfrance exploits his beautiful landscapes to full effect, using the elemental forces of the world around our lovers to both comment on and heighten their own romance, something exacerbated by the very obvious on-screen chemistry of the two leads.

It’s slowly paced, as is the life they lead, but all the more effective for it. The third act may well descend into a little too much contrivance and melodrama, but overall this is a windswept tale, movingly told. Which even manages to pull off an ending that could have easily failed in lesser hands.

(Nice to see Bryan Brown as well.)

 

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