The Light Between Oceans is now out on Blu-ray/DVD. This wasn’t a film I saw in the theaters when it came out, so I’m reviewing both the story and bonus features.
The Light Between Oceans begins with Tom (Michael Fassbender), a World War I veteran who has a lot of guilt about being a survivor when others around him were not. He chooses seclusion by taking a job as a lighthouse keeper on a remote island in Western Australia, but eventually meets Isabel (Alicia Vikander) while in town. She is surprisingly willing to marry him and move with him to the lighthouse, but Isabel wants more than anything a child. After two devastating miscarriages, they receive a gift of sorts inside a rowboat that eventually takes their lives down a path that seems hopeful at first, until they meet Hannah (Rachel Weisz) who has been mourning her husband and child who had been lost….in a rowboat. I don’t want to give away any more than that, but there is a moral struggle between the three of them during much of the remainder of the film.
The Light Between Oceans isn’t a particularly happy film. Even in moments that feel like they should be joyful, there almost always seems to be a tinge of sadness. And because of that, even when Isabel has the family she wants, you know that it isn’t going to last (I didn’t read the book). The movie is beautifully shot, the acting is exquisite, with Fassbender and Vikander falling in love on the set in real life as well. This is a movie I’m glad to have seen once, but for me it’s not a repeatable film.
Mousesteps Grade: B
Here is a look at the bonus features:
Bringing the Lights to Life: Writer/director Derek Cianfrance begins by saying that The Light Between Oceans is about about “love and truth” and secrets people keep in relationships. Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz join producers Jeffrey Clifford and David Heymen in discussing the film as well. The filmmakers and actors talk about living and working remotely for the movie, which gave The Light Between Oceans its realism and also blurred the lines between what was real and what was filmed specifically for the movie (sometimes it was one and the same). One of the most moving parts of this bonus feature is how the filmmakers brought Alicia Vikander to the set. She had been in a hotel for the first week of shooting, and they wanted her to experience the island for the first time on film. So in the middle of the night, they brought her (blindfolded) and got her in makeup and costume. For 45 minutes, she experienced the island as if she’d just arrived as the sun rose, and she said it was the most beautiful place she’d ever seen.
Lighthouse Keeper – The location needed to be cast just as the actors were. Cape Campbell Lighthouse was chosen, it takes more than an hour to go to the island from the nearest land. It is actually in New Zealand. The filmmakers and actors talk about being on the set.