“They gave me a pile of books,” said the director. “I looked through them and there was a book called ‘The Light Between Oceans,’ and I thought, ‘That’s a pretty cinematic title.’ Cracked it open and started reading it, and it’s about this light keeper, which is a very cinematic job.”
But how cinematic is this adaptation of the M.L. Stedman novel? Eh, good enough I guess. It’s certainly not the ideal date movie, and may not even be the ideal “girls’ night out” type of movie either. I guess it’s as good as a “turn of the century” type story can be about a veteran widower who lives on a lighthouse island with a woman who lost both her brothers to the Great War.
Let me tell you, it appears quite promising at first with its stunning views of the horizon and the clear eye the two good-looking leads have for each other. It may even look great on paper when you read that their main issue in marriage is the coincidental discovery of a baby abandoned along with a dead body in a boat. It may sound like great philosophical debate when their issue becomes whether to raise the baby themselves or find the baby’s rightful owner. But instead, The Light Between Oceans gives an unemotional delivery that is unfit for the big screen for any reason besides drawing in readers of the novel.
The film features only two actors for the majority of the time, two highly-acclaimed newcomers Michael Fassender (12 Years a Slave, Steve Jobs) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl, Ex Machina). If I were the director, I probably would have cast someone else; but I don’t know who, as the characters were not defined richly enough to make me care. I’m not saying their performances were bad at all, they did as much as script and direction allowed. The problem was their chemistry, and the amount of time taken to show their love for each other, which is both too much and too little.
Right after the couple‘s first meeting, they exchange long-distance letters that eventually led to their marriage and residence at their lighthouse home. A drawn-out amount of time is spent on their giggling, kissing, beard trimming, and time under the bedsheets, but none on making us actually care or notice the quality of their performances.
I think what hurts the two leads the most is the way the camera envelops their story together on and off the lighthouse island. There are many stunning views of the oceanside, especially at the magic hour. It captures the quiet aloneness of the island against the frightening sounds of the roaring ocean waves, so what went wrong? Anytime the camera was not on a landscape view.
When there are actors on screen, pleasing lighting arrangements are instantly ruined by atrocious aperture settings that spin out of focus and wobble all over, giving you the experience of seasickness without the need to go for an ocean venture. As a photographer with six years of experience, I could tell that there was some masterful camerawork wanting to get out, but it’s too overly manipulative with its motion sickness as well as its blaring window backlights and distractingly questionable edit patterns.
I am not a fan of these types of British Oscar-bait movies that try way too hard to be dramatic. I’m not all in for slow-paced movies that linger on all the wrong moments, challenging me to stay awake through the third act. But if this type of movie doesn’t bother you, then it is probably harmless enough. There’s certainly a fantastic story and movie if you’re willing to dig deep enough, but The Light Between Oceans is still an easily forgetable study of who-knows-what that not even an Alexandre Desplat score can make more engaging.
As an added word of caution, you’ll need some extra patience as it comes to the end. It abuses the “multiple- endings“ more than The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King did.
The couple in this movie go through a lot of hardships that test the bounds of their love and commitment, and ultimately the wrong decisions they make have their unintended consequences that hurt everyone else in the process. It’s a tough thing to forgive and commit during hard times, and the issue can go both ways when between a person with autism and a person without autism.
Six-Word Lessons on Female Asperger Syndrome, Lesson #49: Relationships are Tough, Aspie or Not.
You can ask this to anyone in my family: my father, my mother, my sister, or any one of my friends. They all can agree that forming a relational connection with me had its number of challenges. I could say the same, I too struggle with sustaining healthy relationships with my loved ones.
It has happened between me and my sister, me and my mother, and me and my father: something happens where I misread what the other is saying or feeling, which causes the other to get mad at me. Or the other way around: they misread me.
I just want to clarify: I have a very healthy and fulfilling relationship with everyone in my family, it’s just that there have been, even today, communication barriers that caused unnecessary conflict.
If you want to know what I think is the best solution to getting past issues within the family, it’s primarily on the parents, who are the demeanor between the siblings.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #96: Get Their Siblings On Their Side.
Much like any sibling relationship, my sister and I were always quick to find something to argue or disagree on. Even today we occasionally like to get up at each other’s ankles. When we were younger, my parents were always quick to discipline us when we got into an argument. But of course, we got older, and my parents learned to stay out of our way to resolve conflict on our own, which we always do. So what did my parents do to keep my sister and me from biting each other’s heads off?
I believe the greater factor was that they raised us with an even amount of attention; careful not to give me the “special treatment” as the “special needs” kid. They kept traditions with both of us, offering us as even an amount of attention as siblings should get. My dad would go on Memorial Day walks with my sister and take me to theatrical productions of fairy tales. My mom would get a picture with my sister in front of every Anthropologie store they visited and make Christmas morning breakfasts with me.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, Remember You Have Other Kids Too.
The reward: both my sister and I felt the attention needed from our parents, which helped us become more loving and forgiving human beings (from what others have commented). We still fight once in a while, but we also defend and support one another in times of need.
I worry about families who may not have this same emotional support when troubles come up. The Light Between Oceans tells about a couple whose relationship was damaged by a disagreement, and the lack of outside support almost demolished their marriage.
Six-Word Lessons for Dads with Autistic Kids, My Spouse and I Don’t Agree.
Difficulties stemming from differences have been around since the dawn of time, and autism can create all sorts of barriers that trigger countless disagreements and misunderstandings. I wish there was something I could do to remove all your troubles that come with marriage and parenting, but there are still some tips from experience that I can offer.
- If you have autism and struggle to connect with others, don’t be afraid to ask the other what it is about yourself that bothers him or her. If somebody truly loves you and cares for your growth, they’ll tell you the truth.
- If you are a parents with an autistic child, help your non-autistic child to notice the similarities he or she shares with the sibling. It could be through a favorite movie or favorite place to go eat, but once something in common is shared, stemming a relationship should come naturally.
- Again parents, don’t ever favor one child over the other. Don’t discipline one child but not the other if they’re both guilty of something. Even if one child has autism and the other doesn’t, don’t give so much attention to one that the other feels neglected. All of your children deserve an equal amount of love and attention to survive.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Erbland, Kate. Why Derek Cianfrance Sees ‘The Light Between Oceans’ as a Companion Piece to His ‘Blue Valentine’. IndieWire. WordPress, 30 Aug 2016. Web. <http://www.indiewire.com/2016/08/derek-cianfrance-interview-the-light-between-oceans-michael-fassbender-alicia-vikander-1201721263/>.
I The Light Between Oceans spelar Alicia Vikander mot pojkvännen Michael Fassbender, och filmen verkar riktigt bra! Digital image. Miss Marie. Blogger, 31 Jul 2016. Web. <http://miss-maries.blogspot.com/2016/07/sondagssvep-31-juli-2016.html>.
The Light Between Oceans. DreamWorks Pictures. Web. <https://www.dreamworksstudios.com/films/the-light-between-oceans>.