The Light Between Two Oceans… or how two white people stole a baby and felt super guilty about it.
In essence, Light Between Two Oceans is about a loving couple that marry and try to start out a family on an isolated lighthouse island. After two miscarriages, they begin to give up hope on the idea entirely, that is until a boat with a baby in it washes up on shore like it was carried down the Nile. His wife (Alicia Vikander), who’s obviously affected by her miscarriages, becomes quickly attached to the baby. Rather than separate the mother and child, and end what may be his wife’s only chance at being a “Mother,” he decides to keep the child and cover up the babysnatching all together.
There isn’t much to critique; it’s a well rounded film with Gorgeous cinematography. One visual in particular looked like a master’s painting: The island town mirrored in the shallow beachside. If you have seen the film, you know exactly the shot I’m talking about. There are other striking visuals. The camera flows along with the tension of each scene; it’s intimate when the characters are, and distant when they’re not. The actors all deliver powerful performances. Fassbender hardly says a word the entire film, but he’s so deft with his expressions that the audience always knows exactly what’s on his mind. On paper, his wife is impulsive and manic, but Vikanders performance gives the character an added bit of depth. A credit to her as an actress.
Everything is in it’s right place; it’s utterly competent. But it’s not my type of movie. It’s the kind of film that comes along in fall, just in time for Oscar season. It has star power, accents, it’s a period piece, and it has elements of a war drama to top it all off. Its food for the Academy gods; picked, pruned and presented for their viewing pleasure. I won’t go as far as to say the creators expect awards, but its custom made to receive them. Even if it’s something as minimal as costume design or old age make-up.
My adversion doesn’t stem from a lack of understanding The Light Between Two Oceans, either. Trust me, I appreciate morality plays more than most. I appreciate the message of forgiveness as well, just not the packaging. It’s too clean: Nothing shocks. It’s a world of faded pastels: There’s no vibrancy. It rolls along competently like a sententious hallmark movie. Light Between Two Oceans is in essence, a masterfully crafted Tin Man. Everyone put their hearts into making it, but the movie itself doesn’t have one.
Maybe I’m wrong. But I can’t wipe the taste of a paint by numbers prestige picture out of my mouth. So I’ll go on ranting about it. I don’t want my money back, but I can’t recommend it. Once you’ve seen one prestige picture, you’ve seen them all. To clarify, a prestige picture is a type of movie that studios pump out for Oscar season in order to lend a touch of taste and credibility to themselves. They don’t make money, in fact they often lose money. Light Between Two Oceans wont pad the wallet of anyone at Dreamworks/Reliance but it will stimulate self-respect for their production company while Trolls brings in the dollars.
I know that my argument is flawed. Essentially, I’m saying that the only thing wrong with the film is that there’s nothing wrong with it. I know critics will fawn over it. And some reading this may think I’m being contrarian for the sake of it. I’m not; I’m more tired of this sort of film than anything else. I’ve seen Light Between Two Oceans a million times before. I’ve seen it win best actor, best supporting, best director or best picture. I’ve heard the discussions about how much it deserved that little golden douche-nozzle. And I know that people will completely forget about it two years later.
I don’t intend to be callous. I only wish that a film like Mad Max could have won best picture last year. But it’s very rare a genre action film will, even it’s absolutely perfect because there’s an unspoken social contract when it comes to award season that only stuffy and serious movies are derserving of a win. No heart or fun allowed… Sorry for the rant. You may have expected a review, but I think you get the picture. If you enjoy this type of film, than eat your fucking heart out. I’ll be busy watching Evil Dead II for the sixteenth time.