The Light Between Oceans full movie review - A touching love story with one of the saddest twists any parent will ever have to face
This is the first time I have seen a movie without first reading the synopsis. My only knowledge was of a lighthouse off the coastline of Western Australia and a tiny lost baby.
Witnessing the whole story was a glorious surprise and I found it to be the most heart-wrenching movie of all. Tears were flowing for the last twenty minutes of this tragic saga - as were the 50-something gentleman's sitting beside me. We commiserated together while the credits rolled, agreeing we were a couple of silly old softies!
For the first hour I sat in breathtaking wonder watching this touching love story unfold - a returned soldier fresh from WWI coming to terms with what he had witnessed in that gut-wrenching conflict, and a young woman living in a small town where eligible suitors were few. He is a lighthouse keeper, seeking solace in this solitary lifestyle until this beautiful young woman works her way into his heart. Their unfolding love story is every romantic's dream - caught up in the joy of first love, completely isolated so they can be as one with both themselves and nature in all of her fragile beauty and raging fury. Their home is a tiny island far off the West Australian coastline, with only the sun's rays, bitterly cold winds, torrential rain, surging tides carrying pounding waves onto the rocky shoreline, and silvery moonbeams to keep them company - along with that solitary shaft of light warning sailors to stay clear of this perilous outcrop. Every three months, a trusty vessel bring supplies and news of the outside world.
The chemistry flowing between them is every writer's dream and I sat in the darkness wishing I had been the one bringing these soulmates to life on the pages of the novel and in the movie.
Until tragedy strikes with a duo of gut-wrenching mid-term miscarriages two years apart, leaving both, but most especially the wife, shattered and distraught. And then, out of all this sadness, what seems to be a miracle occurs - a fragile row boat comes to rest on the island's sandy shore with the cold and lifeless body of a man lying beside a very small baby, crying pitifully and in desperate need of a loving set of parents.
The subsequent hour was the moving unfolding of the following four years of this trio's new hope-filled lives - the coming together of everyone's dream family, while hiding a terrible guilty secret. I won't give away any more in-depth revelations, except to say that your heart will possibly be wrenched out of your chest several times over in the concluding half hour, and for all the characters involved.
Florence Clery is the most adorable little girl playing the role of Lucy as a four-year-old, although the baby and the toddler in this same role earlier on were just as endearing with their happy natures balanced by the consequence of amazing timing for tiny tots.
Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, as Tom and Isabel, share wonderful chemistry and I found my heart plunging head first into their enfolding love story ... along with the tragic consequences that followed. Rachel Weisz is the grieving wife and mother played with all the pathos and yearning necessary, while still keeping the dignified manner of her high-bred status in this small town. Jack Thompson, Bryan Brown and Garry McDonald, all Aussie actors, add some fine touches to their lesser characters.
The ending is the gentle progression of turning full circle and breaks your heart all over again, which is why I, and this temporary neighbour of mine, ended up blowing our noses when the screen went blank. For a few minutes afterwards, we both bemoaned the tragic consequences of a momentary decision once made which then could never be changed without a mass of dire consequences for a host of people.
My only criticisms were in no way to do with the story itself, purely because they were simply a lack of attention to detail: the mispronunciation of the town of Albany ? said as though uttering the word 'All-bany" rather than its actual clipped form as in the name "Alan"; the German had a full Australian accent, even though his distinct German accent was mentioned by the townsfolk earlier; and because of the many hours I sat through court cases, the questioning of Isabel had a glaring error when the answer was already included in the question put to her.
My favourite quote from the movie had a beautiful sentiment and something we can all take into everyday life ... "You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day." The second time it is quoted makes your soul sigh for the teller...
With a stirring score that captures both the romance and tragedy of the story, along with the rugged beauty of the windswept setting; mood lighting and cinematography that captures glorious seascapes, including sunsets that take your breath away; and all enhanced by a descriptive script oozing with pathos, this film has everything a movie lover with a romantic heart could want.
I am so glad I saw the movie first as the suspense was fully spellbinding through the most crucial and heartbreaking portions. It also means I will be able to picture all the locations and expressions of those involved, and enjoy all the parts that needed to be left out due to the time constraints associated with a movie when I bury my head in its pages.
And the most fitting conclusion to this whole experience happened when I walked outside: a huge thunderstorm was in progress, as though the heavens were crying with me.
This truly was the perfect story-line: a heaven-sent love story for two lonely souls, the quintessential family unit every person dreams of and the most heartbreaking tragedy you could ever imagine.