Maybe it’s because if you’ve seen the trailer you don’t need to see the first 45 minutes of The Light Between Oceans, or maybe it’s just because it’s boring but I could barely keep my eyes open while watching The Light Between Oceans.
Basically, the story is about a World War I veteran, Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) who takes on a temporary job as a lighthouse keeper and falls in love with a lovely young woman named Isabel Graysmark (Alicia Vikander). Shortly after Isabel’s second miscarriage, it seems like Providence has smiled on them when a dinghy washes ashore with a dead man and a living baby girl as its only passengers.
Isabel persuades Tom not to report the incident and claim the child as their own – they call her Lucy. Four years later, Tom discovers that Lucy’s real mother, Hannah Roennfeldt (Rachel Weiss), lives in the town where they get their supplies and they are found out.
The police think Tom killed Lucy’s father, and do not believe him when he says the man was already dead – and Lucy (Florence Clery), whose real name is Grace, is returned to her real mother (which does not go well…).
Based on a bestselling novel, The Light Between Stars was adapted and directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines). It takes a slight tale and stretches it for 132 minutes.
Even if you haven’t seen the trailer, the first 45 minutes is mostly a lot of slow pans across the ocean or the rocky island on which the lighthouse is situated. Much of it is lovely to look at but it seldom stirs anything emotionally.
Once the plot kicks into gear (or what passes for that here), the pace moves from stultifyingly slow to just a bit less than deliberate.
It doesn’t help that every event in the film is telegraphed well in advance, or that the story isn’t really that fascinating, but what really boggles the mind is how two such talented, beautiful leads can be in almost 80% of the film’s scenes and we don’t know anything about them (at least not from their performances…) or feel anything for them.
Two of the very few moments of real emotion come from letters between the two. One other comes from Hannah weeping softly at the empty grave of her husband and daughter, and the last comes when Lucy-Grace spends a bit of time riding with her grandfather (Bryan Brown).
The rest of the time, the film is basically pretty pictures – and even pretty pictures get boring after a while.
We’re talking second-rate Nicholas Sparks – at best.
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Photos courtesy of Disney/DreamWorks