The Light Between Oceans is the screen adaptation of the book by M.L.Steadman published in 2012. It is set in post-war Western Australia when a traumatised WW1 veteran seeks solace by gaining employment as the lighthouse keeper on a remote island. He then falls deeply in love with a beautiful girl on the mainland. The two marry and set up their idyllic life on the island together. The isolation magnifies the deep beautiful connection between the two. And the setting plays a massive part in this heartbreaking story of undying love, sacrifice and separation.
Director Derek Cianfrance filmed the movie in southern New Zealand in spectacular scenery. He set out to generate the feeling of isolation right from the opening credits of the movie. Essential to the story is the feeling of separation which is obvious from early on in the film. Cianfrance does an incredible job and gets the very best out of a spectacular cast while soaking the screen with stunning visual imagery.
The story asks many moral questions. How do people cope with loss? The need for love and connection? The harsh reality of the sacrifices of life? This is a deeply emotional rollercoaster of a movie so it was essential that the cast could reflect this. And they did.
The casting for The Light Between Oceans is pure brilliance. Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz, Jack Thompson and Bryan Brown all give outstanding performances. But the brittle chemistry between Fassbender and Vikander is magnetic. Both actors give powerful emotional performances that drives the movie forward through heartwarming and tragically heartbreaking moments.
As a period romantic drama, I was not quite sure what to expect going into this movie. Knowing the story, I was a little concerned as to how it was going to be played out. But this is a beautiful film on many levels. Visually it is stunning and the acting is incredible. But more importantly, it successfully challenges your emotions in ways that most movies never can, ending up with a truly unique movie experience.
This is a movie that will haunt you for some time after watching it. But the emotional roller coaster that it is, is well worth the ride – just make sure you have a fair few tissues at the ready.
Update: Unfortunately, The Light Between Oceans is no longer available on Netflix. You can rent it on Amazon but it is not included with the Prime subscription.