Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander fell in love on the set of The Light Between Oceans so it’s hardly a surprise they have undeniable chemistry in the film.
Fassbender plays ex-serviceman Tom, who is seeking solitude following WWI, and chooses to work as a lighthouse keeper on the remote island of Janus Rock in western Australia.
He meets Isabel, as portrayed by Swedish actress Alicia, on the mainland and they eventually get married and live on the island together.
They want to build a family but that seems to be a problem for them as Isabel keeps suffering miscarriages, which inevitably drives her into depression.
However, their problems seem to be solved when a rowboat drifts by the island one day, with a dead man and a baby onboard.
They decide to raise the child as their own, but when they head to the mainland a few years later they discover the baby’s rightful mother Hannah (Rachel Weisz) and are faced with the moral dilemma: should they keep the child or give her back?
This film forces members of the audience to question what they would do in such a tough situation. It would be easy to paint Tom and Isabel as bad people for covering up the death of a stranger and passing off the baby as their own. But as they are very complex and good at heart, it’s hard not to sympathise with their situation.
The setting is absolutely stunning and it also presents an idyllic way of life in the beginning, with many scenes shot at sunrise and sunset to capture the wonderful natural light.
Fassbender, Vikander and Weisz all give powerhouse performances and must have been emotionally drained for all the crying they had to do and despair they had to portray. Weisz, who comes in the latter half, actually gives the most poignant performance because you can’t begin to imagine what she must be going through. These three are the saving grace of the movie, which would have felt too melodramatic without their impressive acting skills.
That being said, the film, an adaptation of M. L. Stedman’s book of the same name, really lays on the emotion a bit thick. Emotionally-charged sequences are frequent and it numbs the viewer to some of the truly gut-wrenching scenes that come later on.
The material is truly sad and emotive, so make sure you bring tissues to this drama – you will need them!
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