Derek Cianfrance’s new romantic drama, The Light Between Oceans, has a tendency to subvert the latter genre. Unlike so many of its predecessors, this is not a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ tragedy; this is a story that focuses on a love that some may consider more important than romantic: a familial love.
The film chronicles a couple (real-life beaus Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander) in 1920s Australia who are struck with a series of devastating miscarriages. Yet when a boat containing a dead man and a very-much alive baby washes ashore near their lighthouse, their luck changes.
Vikander gives a moving performance in a role that would, even to the best of actors seem difficult to portray in a relatable manner. There are some definite Lady Macbeth vibes being given off towards the beginning of the couple’s dilemma, which would otherwise to make it hard to believe she was just a heartbroken young woman who could not have a child of her own. Then again, the harsh truth of her reality in which happiness can only come from a family complete with kids provides added depth for her to contend with. Such views are also held by Rachel Weisz’s mysterious character (whose situation is not that much different from Vikander’s), and this is where the film’s moral dilemma begins.
"Vikander gives a moving performance in a role that would, even to the best of actors seem difficult to portray in a relatable manner"
The emotional journey we see Vikander, Fassbender and Weisz go through as they navigate what is right, wrong and just plain selfish when it comes to family is fascinating; it’s a situation that at first glance you feel more for one side or another, but it is so thoughtfully portrayed from both sides that you may, perhaps, even end up questioning your own morals.
For sure this is a drama that will pull on your heartstrings, but won’t leave you with a pessimistic ‘love is doomed’ feeling so commonly associated with this genre. Definitely a tear-jerker, but will those tears be of sadness or happiness? That I can’t say.
More like this: By the Sea (2015)