‘The Light Between Oceans’ is a ludicrous period-piece weeper
Alicia Vikander in a scene from, “The Light Between Oceans.” (AP Images)
By Signal Contributor
Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

“We’re not doing anything wrong.” — Alicia Vikander’s Isabel to Michael Fassbender’s Tom, just as they’re about to do something really, really wrong.

In the history of movies, anytime anyone says, “We’re not doing anything wrong,” everyone in the audience is pretty much always thinking, “Oh yes you are!”

This is one of the core problems with “The Light Between Oceans,” a gorgeous but plodding and borderline ludicrous period-piece weeper. We’re supposed to feel for Isabel and Tom and the plight they find themselves in, but THEY PUT THEMSELVES IN THAT SITUATION, and what they’ve done isn’t just criminal; it’s cruel.

Based on the popular novel from 2012 by M.L. Stedman, and adapted and directed by the gifted Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine,” “The Place Beyond the Pines”), “The Light Between Oceans” is one of those movies announcing from the get-go you’re in for some serious melodrama.

We open in Australia in 1918, as World War I (then known as the Great War) was coming to a close.

Michael Fassbender plays Tom Sherbourne, a four-year combat veteran who appears numb and broken. Tom applies for the job of lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a remote post some 100 miles from the nearest town. That’ll suit him just fine.

Ah, but living in that town is one Isabel (Vikander), a beautiful, sweet and plucky gal who lost two brothers to the war and is biding her time in her parents’ home, just waiting for a Fassbender-looking guy to sweep her off her feet.

After just one semi-date, Tom and Isabel are goners. He goes back to the lighthouse, and they commence with a pen-pal romance. Before you can say, “Cue the happiness montage,” Tom and Isabel are married, and Isabel is with child.

Isabel suffers a miscarriage, and then another. The tragedies are compounded because she’s isolated on the unforgiving Janus Rock with just her husband.

And then a dinghy washes up, and inside the dinghy there is a dead man and a baby girl who is very much alive.

Tom says they must report this to the authorities. Isabel, who has just suffered her second miscarriage, says: What if we bury the dead man, and we pretend this girl is ours?

I suppose it’s possible everyone, including Isabel’s parents, will buy into the notion this quite large baby was actually born to Isabel in the lighthouse with only Tom to provide assistance.

I’m just not sure anyone could have turned this soap opera material into anything other than a sweeping, credibility-stretching, overwrought … soap opera.

About the author

Signal Contributor

Signal Contributor

Alicia Vikander in a scene from, “The Light Between Oceans.” (AP Images)

‘The Light Between Oceans’ is a ludicrous period-piece weeper

“We’re not doing anything wrong.” — Alicia Vikander’s Isabel to Michael Fassbender’s Tom, just as they’re about to do something really, really wrong.

In the history of movies, anytime anyone says, “We’re not doing anything wrong,” everyone in the audience is pretty much always thinking, “Oh yes you are!”

This is one of the core problems with “The Light Between Oceans,” a gorgeous but plodding and borderline ludicrous period-piece weeper. We’re supposed to feel for Isabel and Tom and the plight they find themselves in, but THEY PUT THEMSELVES IN THAT SITUATION, and what they’ve done isn’t just criminal; it’s cruel.

Based on the popular novel from 2012 by M.L. Stedman, and adapted and directed by the gifted Derek Cianfrance (“Blue Valentine,” “The Place Beyond the Pines”), “The Light Between Oceans” is one of those movies announcing from the get-go you’re in for some serious melodrama.

We open in Australia in 1918, as World War I (then known as the Great War) was coming to a close.

Michael Fassbender plays Tom Sherbourne, a four-year combat veteran who appears numb and broken. Tom applies for the job of lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a remote post some 100 miles from the nearest town. That’ll suit him just fine.

Ah, but living in that town is one Isabel (Vikander), a beautiful, sweet and plucky gal who lost two brothers to the war and is biding her time in her parents’ home, just waiting for a Fassbender-looking guy to sweep her off her feet.

After just one semi-date, Tom and Isabel are goners. He goes back to the lighthouse, and they commence with a pen-pal romance. Before you can say, “Cue the happiness montage,” Tom and Isabel are married, and Isabel is with child.

Isabel suffers a miscarriage, and then another. The tragedies are compounded because she’s isolated on the unforgiving Janus Rock with just her husband.

And then a dinghy washes up, and inside the dinghy there is a dead man and a baby girl who is very much alive.

Tom says they must report this to the authorities. Isabel, who has just suffered her second miscarriage, says: What if we bury the dead man, and we pretend this girl is ours?

I suppose it’s possible everyone, including Isabel’s parents, will buy into the notion this quite large baby was actually born to Isabel in the lighthouse with only Tom to provide assistance.

I’m just not sure anyone could have turned this soap opera material into anything other than a sweeping, credibility-stretching, overwrought … soap opera.

Upcoming Events

Jan
12
Fri
all-day Domes – Art Exhibit @ Old Town Newhall Library
Domes – Art Exhibit @ Old Town Newhall Library
Jan 12 – May 11 all-day
Domes - Art Exhibit @ Old Town Newhall Library | Santa Clarita | California | United States
Local resident Naomi Young, is the artist featured in the latest exhibit at the Old Town Newhall Library. The exhibit features original paintings and multimedia by Young, an artist born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel,[...]
Feb
1
Thu
all-day “The Golden Oaks of Santa Clarit... @ Valencia Library
“The Golden Oaks of Santa Clarit... @ Valencia Library
Feb 1 – Jun 1 all-day
“The Golden Oaks of Santa Clarita,” Art Exhibit @ Valencia Library  | Santa Clarita | California | United States
“THE GOLDEN OAKS OF SANTA CLARITA” ART EXHIBIT BY BRAD SERGI ON DISPLAY AT THE VALENCIA LIBRARY Library hours: Mon-Thu 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Fri 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. – 5[...]
Feb
14
Wed
all-day Tickets Available Now for 41st A... @ Dodger Stadium
Tickets Available Now for 41st A... @ Dodger Stadium
Feb 14 – May 12 all-day
Tickets Available Now for 41st Annual SCV Dodger Day @ Dodger Stadium | Los Angeles | California | United States
SANTA CLARITA DODGER DAY TICKETS ON SALE NOW! Tickets Start at $25 and Benefit Local Schools and Non-Profits It’s time to step up to the plate! The Santa Clarita City Council invites residents to purchase[...]
Apr
19
Thu
all-day Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Apr 19 – Apr 22 all-day
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW FOR COWBOY FESTIVAL CONCERTS – Locations, Times & Prices Vary 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival offers ticketed performances and special events Get ready for some toe-tapping, two-stepping, guitar-picking musical performances![...]
Apr
20
Fri
all-day Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Apr 20 – Apr 23 all-day
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW FOR COWBOY FESTIVAL CONCERTS – Locations, Times & Prices Vary 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival offers ticketed performances and special events Get ready for some toe-tapping, two-stepping, guitar-picking musical performances![...]
7:00 pm Hart High School Presents ‘Bye, ... @ Hart High school Auditorium
Hart High School Presents ‘Bye, ... @ Hart High school Auditorium
Apr 20 @ 7:00 pm
Hart High School Presents 'Bye, Bye Birdie' @ Hart High school Auditorium | Santa Clarita | California | United States
Spring Musical Coming April 2018! Hart High Theatre is proud to present Bye Bye Birdie! April 19, 20, 27 & 28 @ 7pm April 28 & 29 @ 1pm When the draft selects rock star[...]
Apr
21
Sat
all-day Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Apr 21 – Apr 24 all-day
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW FOR COWBOY FESTIVAL CONCERTS – Locations, Times & Prices Vary 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival offers ticketed performances and special events Get ready for some toe-tapping, two-stepping, guitar-picking musical performances![...]
10:00 am Astronomy Day @ Valencia Library
Astronomy Day @ Valencia Library
Apr 21 @ 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
The Local Group Astronomy Club and The Santa Clarita Public Library present our free annual Astronomy Day Celebration. We will be at the Valencia branch of the Santa Clarita Public Library from 10am to 3pm.[...]
10:00 am Resource Parents Needed to Foste... @ College of the Canyons, Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, Room 222
Resource Parents Needed to Foste... @ College of the Canyons, Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, Room 222
Apr 21 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Resource Parents Needed to Foster or Foster-Adopt a Child @ College of the Canyons, Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, Room 222 | Santa Clarita | California | United States
Adoption is a meaningful way for individuals and couples to fulfill their dream of parenting.  There are approximately 64,000 children in foster care in California.  Los Angeles County’s foster care population exceeds 21,000 children with[...]
10:00 am The City of Lancaster’s 27th Ann... @ Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park
The City of Lancaster’s 27th Ann... @ Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park
Apr 21 @ 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
The City of Lancaster’s 27th Annual California Poppy Festival, Sat & Sun @ Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park | Lancaster | California | United States
On April 21 and 22, the City of Lancaster will host the 27th annual California Poppy Festival™ at Sgt. Steve Owen Memorial Park (43063 10th Street West). Drawing more than 40,000 attendees and spanning 35[...]