*** stars (out of four)
Based on the novel by M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans is a romantic drama directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines). Michael Fassbender plays a WWI vet manning a lighthouse on a remote Australian island. His wife (Alicia Vikander) has suffered two miscarriages. She’s suffering from deep depression when a dinghy washes ashore with a dead man and a baby inside.
Vikander presses Fassbender to bury the man and care for the baby themselves instead of reporting it. But soon thereafter, they encounter the girl’s mother (Rachel Weisz). Fassbender is torn between feelings of guilt over what he’s done, and love/loyalty to his wife. And naturally, both he and Vikander become attached to the child.
The movie, running 130 minutes, takes too long to get going. But once it does, it’s a compelling tearjerker with great chemistry between its two leads. The film’s ultimate message of forgiveness is an admirable one, and it’s a theme Cianfrance also explored in The Place Beyond the Pines. And as usual with Cianfrance’s films, it’s beautiful to look at.