review – the light between oceans

Director Derek M. Cianfrance brings the depth of his directorial prowess into full force with the delicately rendered film, The Light Between Oceans. Adam Arkapaw’s subtle, yet visually stunning cinematography serves as a perfect counter-point to Cianfrance’s melancholy tale. Much as with Cianfrance’s earlier work on Blue Valentine, he bores a tunnel straight to the emotional truth of the characters with an almost surgical precision. It is a rare talent that arguably few directors possess, and he generously shares that talent with us here.

The film stars Michael Fassbender, who plays a war-torn veteran that takes on a lonely job as a lighthouse keeper. Fassbender’s range as an actor seemingly knows no bounds, and he plays every note masterfully. Alicia Vikander’s performance as Fassbender’s wife is equally powerful, with her showing an impressive emotional depth. The film’s dramatic turn comes with the sea-born arrival of an infant that was presumed lost along with her father. The couple take the child in, deciding to raise her as their own. However, things become complicated when the couple discover the child’s biological mother, who is exquisitely portrayed by Rachel Weisz. The film’s exploration of the deep, human interactions that result from this conflict is well-balanced and simply a joy to watch. Cianfrance is quickly becoming a director to be remembered, and The Light Between Oceans is another strong step in that direction.