There are many moments in The Light Between Oceans when cinematographer Adam Arkapaw beautifully captures the rich tones of both night and day amidst the gloom of the central journey. Rather special, too, is Alexandre Desplat‘s effortlessly emotive film score, borrowing ever so slightly from himself and his incredible back-catalog, while bringing some fresh melodies to help stir the feelings. There has to be more, though. Grand photography and music is all very nice, but accompanied by cliched story-telling and dialogue kind of lets it down. Some fine scenes here, just not all adding up to a sum of what it promises.
A classic tale with arguably the two most versatile, hottest properties in the film business today turns out to only emphasize the lack of impact The Light Between Oceans has. Michael Fassbender is perfectly fine, but it is hard to figure out if his character is shackled by guilt more than the actor feeling restricted. Alicia Vikander goes to town on the emotions once again, pulling the heart-strings stronger – nobody does the verge of tears like her. It is little too late, but the heart-breaking Rachel Weisz steals the third act, portraying a woman who will never recover from a tragic loss, and it is her plight you support through to the end.
Directed Derek Cianfrance might well be out of his depth then with romantic period drama, not to say his movie is particularly bad, but there is something in the execution so flimsy, so sedated, you end up scratching your head as to why you are not moved more than you are. Especially when you look at Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine, a very different story, but his direction and the performances of his to leads there are far more intoxicating and ferocious. I mean, the story in The Light Between Oceans is pretty grim, and the irreversible actions taken are both understandable and unforgivable, but you somehow neither sympathize with nor be repelled from the characters enough. It is not about taking sides, though that plays a small part in your viewing experience, but more about channeling to us a convincing romance at least.