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The Light Between Oceans
为妳说的谎

Opening Date
19 Jan 2017
Rating
M18 Sexual Scene
Runtime
133 mins
Language
English with Chinese subtitles
Genre
Drama
Director
Derek Cianfrance
Cast
Alicia Vikander, Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz
Synopsis
“The Light Between Oceans,” an international best-seller, takes place on a remote Australian island in the years following World War I, where a lighthouse keeper and his wife are faced with a moral dilemma when a boat washes ashore with a dead man and a two-month-old infant.  When they decide to raise the child as their own, the consequences of their choice are devastating.
Reviews
By Freddy  05 Jan 2017
This well-acted sentimental melodrama is a relatively captivating affair despite some pacing issue.
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‘The Light Between Oceans’ is a sentimental melodrama by Derek Cianfrance. It possesses the sappiness of films adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ books combined with the nostalgia of post-World War I era. This film was adapted from book as well, written by M.L. Stedman. Although I have not read the book, I heard that it is a faithful adaptation.

At the heart of the film is an intriguing moral dilemma. Husband and wife Tom (Michael Fassbender) and Isabel (Alicia Vikander) found a baby girl and her dead father washed up on the shore. They raised the baby as their own but years later, they found the baby’s mother, Hannah (Rachel Weisz). The film explores the decisions they made and the consequences of their actions.

Despite the interesting premise (that has been clearly laid out in the synopsis and trailer), the film clearly takes its time to get there. We only get to that point at approximately the halfway mark. The first hour of its 132-minute duration was dedicated to follow Tom and Isabel’s journey from the moment Tom met Isabel and was assigned the job as a lightkeeper until their eventual wedding and their married life as a couple on Janus Rock.

Cianfrance, who also wrote the screenplay, does have his reasons to spend time on slowly building up to the moral dilemma. It indeed allows us to empathize better with the couple and to understand the decisions they would be making. Nevertheless, this portion feels overly drawn out and could have been told just as effectively in half the time. This also causes the film to be unevenly paced, with the second half feeling very rushed in comparison.

Luckily, we have talented thespians who are more than capable of carrying the roles. All three actors truly bring home the point that there is no villain in this story. They made mistakes but they did what they thought were right.

Michael Fassbender is very effective in portraying Tom’s survivor’s guilt as a World War I hero. We could see how the trauma colours his decisions throughout the rest of his life. Rachel Weisz has an equally challenging role. Although Hannah appears much less than Tom and Isabel, her portrayal as a woman who lost her family was on point. Hannah faces difficult crossroads towards the end of the film and Weisz’s performance does not disappoint.

While the film is well-acted all around, Alicia Vikander is the shining beacon of the film. Isabel goes through an emotional roller-coaster throughout her miscarriages, the joy of motherhood, and the fear of losing her daughter. Her heart wrenching performance is often difficult to watch.
Vikander also has palpable chemistry with Fassbender, who has been her real-life partner since meeting on the set of this film in 2014.

The film has beautiful cinematography, generously filled with breathtaking shots of the sky and the oceans. Wide shots were frequently used to highlight the isolation of Tom and Isabel in Janus Rock, but the film also knows when to be intimate with close-ups. The score feels quite bare, as the film often emphasises the sounds of the sea breeze and crashing waves.

Overall, ‘The Light Between Oceans’ is an emotional drama supported with an impeccable main cast. Despite feeling draggy at times, the plot is solid and the poignant ending feels satisfying. Fans of the genre should enjoy the film and might even shed a tear or two.
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