I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Getting the experience of a certain story from watching a movie differs highly when compared with reading about it through words in a book. Novels create settings; they stir feelings as they bring a whole spectrum of human emotions into the forefront. Rarely have we seen a movie surpass its literacy counterpart, because when we imagine our characters in intense milieu, we feed them with the highest ranking of emotional flair- we expect nothing less and it’s something denied to us with acting skills falling flat.
And while it’s hard enough to convert any novel into a movie, it’s even harder when the novel is a beautiful, heartbreaking drama. Based on the best-selling novel by M.L. Steadman, “The Light between Oceans” tells the gripping tale of a couple whose patience, love and trials are tested through time. It is set after World War I, and focuses on a returning veteran who takes up a job as a lighthouse watchman off the coast of Australia. Michael Fassbender breathes such air into the character ‘Tom’. He shines of complexity yet looks for the simplicity of things in life, something he isn’t destined to get. Living alone on an island, he is operating the light to guide boats safely through stormy waters and as it turns out, Tom needs a guiding light himself, and hence comes into the picture a pretty village lady ‘Isabel’, who longs to start a family. He marries her and after some sunny moments, tragedy strikes the couple as suffer two miscarriages and Isabel despairs of ever having children. When a rowboat drifts ashore with a baby on board, next to the body of a dead man, Tom feels it’s his duty to call authorities, of course. But Isabel feels like the baby is providential -- sent to provide her the daughter she so wanted. And thus begins the audience’s setting for a melodrama pleasure.
Director Derek Cianfrance knew he had something mighty big on his hands, and needed to plan a cast that will carry off this gigantic project with grace and convincing artistic calibre. He made the smartest move by casting Fassbender against Alicia Vikander, a young actress who certainly proved her unbelievable acting skills with movies like ‘The Danish Girl’ and ‘Ex Machina’. Coming together, the duo was to bring a heart wrenching tale to the screen, giving the audience a stir of the heart, which they managed to do. It’s surreal yet so relatable; a mother’s love for her daughter, a father’s willpower under question and their intense dialogue delivery, where they were required to express and give out more emotions through their facial expressions than through the scripts. A set of emotions that are parallel to one another, they are remarkable in their delivery. And as the cherry on top of the tree, Rachel Weisz adds to the star cast and star performance as the grieving widow who loses her husband and baby in the depths of the ocean. A movie that could have kept the audience glued if the supporting factors had matched to what the actors had set out to achieve. While the locations are breathtaking, the cinematography could have been worked out in a more subtle and soulful manner. Shoving the camera in the face of the performers isn’t really needed to stir emotions. they are able to do that very well on their own. Also the background score also seems to be pushing too hard to make it a tear-jerker. Subtlety could have worked greatly if allowed. Yet it’s a watchable melodrama that managed to get the audience all stirred up, mainly because of the impeccable performances of its star cast.