Here's a look at the new movie I saw this week.
The Light Between Oceans
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, and Rachel Weisz
Synopsis: We have transitioned from the summer season, known for blockbusters, CGI effects and over-the-top comedy, to the fall. Over the coming months as 2016 comes to a close, we’ll see movies with rich performances, engrossing stories and haunting narratives. That’s certainly true of “The Light Between Oceans.” The film centers on a couple that choose to strand themselves at a lighthouse on a remote island. There, they fall deeper in love with each other while enduring their share of struggles. When a child washes ashore aboard a rowboat, it seems to be the answer to their prayers. Soon, it becomes something else entirely. The ethical and moral questions at the heart of the story power this film, as do some excellent performances. If “The Light Between Oceans” is a sign of things to come, we could be in for a rich and rewarding fall movie season. Writer/director Derek Cianfrance doesn’t do light, breezy films. His first feature, “Blue Valentine,” was about a married couple whose relationship was disintegrating. His follow up, “A Place Beyond the Pines,” was a haunting tale of two men and their violent intersection. With this third film, he again mines deep, emotional territory. He’s crafted a beautiful looking and haunting film, one that should be remembered come awards season. What makes it work are the beautiful performances he coaxes out of his lead performers. Fassbender has been nominated for multiple Academy Awards, but has yet to win. Regardless, he continues to deliver beautifully nuanced and layered performances, and does so again with Tom. He’s a man haunted by war. He’s driven by love, but also bound by honor. He plays the conflict beautifully, making it a heart-wrenching film to watch at times. But he’s matched by Vikander, who won an Academy Award for her work in “The Danish Girl” in February. She should be a strong candidate to repeat after her work as Isabel. She’s an incredibly expressive performer, conveying so much through her face. And Cianfrance works the camera beautifully, focusing tightly on her face often and letting it tell the story. Not to be left out is Weisz, an Academy Award winner herself, who plays a smaller, more thankless role. It’s a part that could easily have faded to the background somewhat or been overlooked, but it’s vital to the production thanks to her vibrant performance. “The Light Between Oceans” isn’t an easy film to watch. Just when you think it’s drained you to the bottom emotionally, the film reaches a new emotional depth. It’s the power of the stories and the characters that draw you. It’s filled with three beautiful performances and it’s shot in such a magnificent way. Cianfrance uses the camera to create the feeling of remoteness and isolation. This is in contention as the best film of the year so far, and one worth checking out.
Rating: PG-13 for thematic material and some sexual content.
Verdict: Four stars out of four.
Friday, September 9 — "Wild Life," "Sully," "When the Bough Breaks"
Friday, September 16 — "Hill Song: Let Hope Rise," "Snowden," "Bridget Jones' Baby," "Blair Witch"
Friday, September 23 — "The Magnificent Seven," "Queen of Katwe," "Storks"
Friday, September 30 — "Deepwater Horizon," "Masterminds," "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children"