Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, a couple in real life, play newlyweds Tom and Isabel Sherbourne.
They take a solitary job at Janus Coast in post-World War I Australia, maintaining a lighthouse in the middle of two vast oceans.
They spend their days signaling ships and dreaming of a child of their own. After two miscarriages, they discover a boat washed up on their shore with a child–and dead man.
Against Tom’s better judgement, they decide to keep her. Life becomes blissful as their child, whom they name Lucy, grows older.
But their act sets off a chain of events that lead to dire circumstances.
Fassbender, who is utterly brilliant in a very, welcomed change-of-pace role, travels to the mainland, and spies a bereaved woman (Rachel Weisz), who has lost her child and husband at sea.
In short order, the real mother is revealed. Tom is arrested for murder. I didn’t read the book, but I was immediately caught up in this terrifically compelling scheme.
Vikander, the go-to-gal these days, is simply mesmerizing as Isabel. Fassbender, no Magneto or Steve Jobs here, is wonderfully reserved and nuanced in his role.
The camera loves him and Vikander; they both succeed terrifically.
The music by Alexander Desplat is stunning, perfectly matched by the sumptuous locations of Cape Campbell, a peninsula in New Zealand.
It perfectly matches the description of Janus Rock, the fictional Australian island where the stoic lighthouse keeper resides with his wife.
The first part of the movie deals with Sherbourne being interviewed for the post, due to some sort of situation with the previous caretaker.
The next scene we find out that previous occupant threw himself off a cliff. Several characters wonder what kind of person “would want this post anyway.”
Shades of “The Shinning,” I thought.
Also in the movie is veteran actor Bryan Brown, who we haven’t seen in quite some time. Aged somewhat, but still very stoic and good. His scenes with the little girl are a highlight of the movie.
For a brief moment, I felt there was a court-room sequence looming, which to me, would have killed the momentum. The narrative is neatly resolved, maybe a bit too quickly, but nicely and neatly.
Resplendent, bold and thoroughly engrossing, I loved this Ocean.
“The Light Between Oceans” will be released on, Friday, Sept. 2.
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