Much more than Oscar bait, The Light Between Oceans shows you just how far two talented actors can take a film.
Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, further known for being one of the darling couples of Hollywood, are both at the top of their game. Coming off fantastic performances in Frank, Ex Machina and a variety of other hits, pairing never-before seen together tinsel-town megastars for sweeping romantic epics has been a staple of Hollywood since its earliest days, with The Light Between Oceans admirably upholding the tradition.
A UK-Australian co-production, war hero Tom Sherbourne (Fassbender) takes up a vacancy at a light house off the coast of Western Australia following his departure from the Western Front, where he meets and quickly falls for local beauty Isabel (Alicia Vikander). Taking up residence on the remote island alongside Tom, Isabel soon falls pregnant and miscarries. The already emotionally fraught Tom can only do so much to help her, until one day a rowboat with a yet unidentified baby rocks up on shore.
There isn’t a great deal of surprise or revelation in The Light Between Oceans – the emotional resonance of the film emanating from its leads’ markedly good performances and visible chemistry. Very willing to rest on its central moral conundrum rather than makes its characters jump through twisted plot machinations, there’s more than enough in the steadily-paced interactions and emotional upheavals between Tom and Isabel to drive a very compelling film. With Fassbender heralding a distinctly understated character, it’s the much younger and recent Oscar winner Vikander who really shines in several dramatic, moving sequences which have the greatest staying power of the film’s varied and memorable events.
Director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) makes the most of the amply stunning scenery while Rachel Weisz, Jack Thompson and Bryan Brown round out a superb cast and picture. Certainly a tilt at gold for more than one of the cast and crew, The Light Between Oceans is certainly up there as a worthy contender.
The Light Between Oceans is screening at the British Film Festival and will open in cinemas nationally on November 3