Nearly 20 years ago, I began working at the Video Station, alongside Derek Cianfrance and Jimmy Helton, among others. Derek was working on his award-winning film, Brother Tied, and he left that year to move to L.A., and he took Jimmy with him. Now I’m still at the Video Station, and Derek has gone on to create films of magnitude with award-winning casts and crews.
Cianfrance’s brand includes outstanding cinematography and the use of light, angles, and texture that not only enhance the story, but are the story. Very simply put, his films are visually stunning, and The Light Between Oceans is perhaps his greatest example of that particular gift. In watching Light, I felt tremendous appreciation for the breathtaking and evocative camerawork with its sensuous and dreamy quality. Thank you for that, Adam Arkapaw. The highly skilled editors, Jim Helton and Ron Patane, working their magic and their art, made an equally valuable contribution to the pleasures of the visual.
The story involves a man who is the keeper of an isolated lighthouse (Michael Fassbender) and his young wife (Alicia Vikander) who are undaunted by the solitude that characterizes their life together.
Michael Fassbender. How’s this for a varied filmography: Shame, 12 Years a Slave, Frank (the most asked about movie at our store by customers staring at the Frank poster we have behind the counter), X-Men, Slow West, and Steve Jobs. This guy can do just about anything and he does it well. He’s joined by Alicia Vikander who had a big year in 2015 with Ex-Machina and The Danish Girl. She has an uncommon beauty and a natural talent. Their acting displayed depth and nuance, and I was wowed by their performances.
Derek adapted the film from the novel by M.L. Stedman. I, of course, didn’t read the book, which can often work in the viewer’s favor, so I can’t speak to how closely the movie resembles the source material. I won’t reveal too much of the story, except to say it’s about relationship, the role of chance, the often misshapen expression of love, and most of all, moral dilemma. Movies like this ask me to question what I know and peel back the layers to help me discover more about myself and the world around me. This exploration makes the viewing extra-worthwhile.
Alexandre Desplat did the music, and it created a bit of a melodramatic atmosphere. I bet you’ll like the music more than I did. Also, Desplat has worked on a zillion movies that I have loved, including one of maybe my top 5 — The Grand Budapest Hotel. This melodramatic quality is probably the chief complaint of the critics who didn’t care for the movie, but for me it did not negate all the good The Light Between Oceans offers: a deeply satisfying visual experience, fine acting, and thematic content that challenges the viewer to examine values.
I recommend it, and was very glad I saw it (twice). Oh, and check out “The Making Of” in the Special Features and you can take a look at Derek’s very unique style of filmmaking. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 1/24/17