Loneliness, opportunity and punishment
By Roger Childs
The lighthouse which is at the centre of The Light Between Oceans is on Janus Island off the coast of Western Australia.
The movie is set after World War One and the main character is Tom Sherbourne, who has returned from the Western Front.
Wanting isolation, to recover from the horrors of war, he gets the job of lighthouse keeper on Janus.
In the settlement closest to the island he meets and marries Isabel, the daughter of his employer, and they look to establish a family on their isolated, wind-swept outpost.
The unfolding story is engaging and includes some dramatic footage, especially on the island, but does stretch one’s credulity somewhat. A three star film.
Settings to suit the story
For the movie based on M L Stedman’s novel, the Cape Campbell light in Marlborough was picked out of 300 possibilities! And the settlement where the main characters reside much of the time, is actually picturesque Stanley on the north coast of Tasmania.
These settings are ideal, enabling the film crew to make a meal of the environments, especially on “Janus Island”.
Michael Fassbender is excellent as Tom and Alicia Vikander performs impressively as his wife.
The turning point in the story comes when a boat containing a baby is washed up on their remote island home.
A worthy, but flawed period piece
Alternating scenes between the island and the township, Director Derek Cianfrance keeps the story moving and the sets, costuming and atmosphere are convincingly post great war.
It is only when the action focuses primarily on Stanley and what the couple have done in their desire for a family, that the film loses its way. Whereas in many films, especially out of Hollywood, you often get too much information, The Light Between Oceans leaves out detail you feel you need to know.
There is no problem with giving the viewer points to ponder and discuss on the way home in the car, however Cianfrance omits essential information which makes the latter part of the film disjointed.
Nevertheless, this is still a watchable, well acted movie, and those curious to know all that the couple actually experienced in later life, can reach for Stedman’s novel.