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The Light Between Oceans review by Rashid Irani: A hokey period romance

A childless couple finds a child, takes her in and then must face the music. It should be moving, but it’s not.

movie reviews Updated: Sep 17, 2016 15:38 IST
Rashid Irani
The ocean vistas are stunning, but the rest of film is disappointing on almost every level, the most notable of these disappointments being the flat performances by Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander.
The ocean vistas are stunning, but the rest of film is disappointing on almost every level, the most notable of these disappointments being the flat performances by Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander.

THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS

Direction: Derek Cianfrance

Actors: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander

Rating: 1.5 / 5

If you decide to venture into this handsomely mounted but dramatically stillborn melodrama, you are advised to walk in with patience (the film is nearly two-and-a-half hours long) and lowered expectations.

Set in post-World War I Australia, The Light Between Oceans is adapted from ML Steadman’s debut 2012 bestseller of the same name.

A follow-up to writer-director Derek Cianfrance’s previous feature (The Place Beyond the Pines, 2012), the new tearjerker is disappointing on most levels, the most notable of these disappointments being the passionless performances by both Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander.

The film is set in post-World War I Australia and revolves around a couple who live in happy isolation on an island. The only sorrow in their otherwise idyllic existence is that they yearn for a child but can’t have one.

They portray a couple who live in happy isolation on a remote island where the husband is the lighthouse-keeper. Their otherwise idyllic existence is incomplete without children.

After two miscarriages, the wife has given up hope of ever becoming a mother. Then, as fate and Nicholas Sparks-style contrivance would have it, a rowboat washes ashore containing a dead man and an infant.

Read: Fassbender, Vikander discuss the making of the film

Torn between his responsibility to report the incident to the authorities and the pleading of his wife, who believes the baby is a gift from God, they decide to raise the little girl as their own. Four years and a chance encounter later, the couple is forced to face the consequences of their actions.

When a rowboat washes ashore containing a dead man and an infant, they decide to raise the little girl as their own. Four years and a chance encounter later, the couple must face the consequences of this.

A bittersweet coda fails to elicit the intended smiles and sniffles.

Of the supporting cast, only Rachel Weisz brings conviction to her role of the biological mother. While the oceanic vistas are undeniably photogenic, the background score by Alexandre Desplat is overly sentimental.

Ultimately, The Light Between Oceans is a hokey period romance masquerading as a morality tale.

Watch the trailer for The Light Between Oceans