March 30, 2023

Bluray Review – The Light Between Oceans (2016)


I was ready to witness a Nicholas Sparks imitator with The Light Between Oceans; rather I enjoyed a whiff of Thomas Hardy.

First, Michael Fassbender. He was impressive, per usual. Absolutely outstanding. The emotion, stoicism, and conflict – Michael can convey so much through those eyes, they speak volumes even when no words are spoken. Tom Sherborne is a hard man, a good man, but a man who is weathered from war and heartbreak; a man who, at the start of the film, is nearly dead inside. Michael’s portrayal of him is superb and brilliant. He is so talented its really just beyond incredible to see. I do feel that he shed tears a bit too much for a war veteran, but it softened him, I think. Tom is a man of principle and integrity, Michael did a wonderful job of communicating that to the audience.

Second, Alicia Vikander. She was outstanding, I mean truly. I will be honest and say the girl is a wonder. There were a few scenes though were it seemed like she was stomping around like a child having a tantrum, but other than that she was absolutely wonderful. She is getting better I think, her acting more rich and deep. Kudos to her, growth is the mark of a true artist, only gets better with time and experience. I was blown away by her in this film. Even though she is a tad less experienced actor, she very strongly held her own acting opposite Fassbender. The chemistry between them is really undeniable. I wanted them to be happy and loved watching them fall in love. Tom needed love and light in his life, Isabel was there to give it to him with her whole heart.

Derek Cianfrance. Regardless of his unscrupulous directing methods, he has an exquisite eye for detail. The scenery, how he captured it was just breathtaking and it was more than obvious that he had a very clear vision and executed it expertly. Like Chris Nolan, when you watch a Cianfrance film, you know it’s him. Obviously, he directed TLBO but he also singlehandedly adapted the book for film; it was a little slow in parts, but he did an impeccable job with both those endeavours.

This film is about the enduring power of love and that not all family is blood. Family is what you make it. It conveyed what I have always said about life: nothing is cut and dry or black and white. Life is about sometimes being faced with difficult choices, with no clear right or wrong answer. Sometimes what’s ‘right’ isn’t always the obvious choice, and sometimes, when your hurting more than you’ve ever hurt before, you must can find a way to persevere.

Bottom line: What wouldn’t you do for those you love? Life is never black and white but rather, shades of gray and nothing is as it seems. None of us have it together, we are all just trying to do the best we can with the circumstances that surround us. That is my takeaway from this film and a great note to take with you into your life.

A bit light on special features, but what there is is quality. To kick off there is an Audio Commentary with Cianfrance and film professor Phil Solomon (who was Cianfrance’s own film teacher). I haven’t listened to all of it, just snippets. What I HAVE heard is extremely insightful and is definitely worth a listen. I loved his commentary on The Place Beyond the Pines, he is incredibly smart and erudite and this time is no different. 2 featurettes are included, one which is about the history of lighthouse keeping (which isn’t terribly interesting, at least not to me). What is more interesting is a making of the film. Fassbender actually lived on the island where they were filming for a week on his own before filming started, tending to the animals, planting vegetables etc. Vikander travelled to the island for the first time, blindfolded, in order to get her honest reactions on camera. It also shows them both bonding and I have to say, there is no way you can’t see how they bonded in real life. The way they look at each other, they were destined to meet. It’s an incredible way to work and it just shows why Cianfrance is so different as a filmmaker.

Peter Fletcher

Drama, Romance | USA, 2016 | 12 | 13th March 2017 (UK) | Entertainment One UK | Dir.Derek Cianfrance | Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz | Buy:[Blu-ray]