Overall Rating: 3/5
September 2, 2016
Dir. Derek Cianfrance
Rated PG-13 (for thematic material and some sexual content)
This one’s a real mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses. The Light Between Oceans, based on the novel of the same name, is about a newly-made lighthouse keeper and his new family. Set primarily during the early twenties off the western coast of Australia, the setting, both landscapes and set pieces, are immersive and breathtaking. This is certainly because it is meant to be as much a character in the story as the people. The setting, in fact, may be more memorable in some ways than the story itself.
The story slowly and too deliberately begins to hone in on its focus: a certain moral dilemma (which I won’t spoil of course). The island on which the lightkeeper works is named Janus Rock, which is spelled out for the audience as a sort of reference to the concept of looking at something in two different ways. These opposing perspectives upon the dilemma at hand are embodied by the two central characters who do a good job of keeping the audience divided.
As I’ve said, the scenery is great. Despite distracting details regarding lack of aging and accents, the acting is great as well. However, there is a severe lack of fusion between the source material and the film. Granted, I haven’t read the book, but it seems that Cianfrance leaned far too heavily on beautiful scenery, a great cast, and popular source material and forgot to calibrate the essential story-telling elements correctly.