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The Light Between Oceans (2016)

Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/24/2017

All Ratings out of



Review by Stephanie Long, Posted on 1/18/2017

When you are a full-time working mom of two teenagers, reading a book is truly a pleasure. I used to be a voracious reader, but investing the time in a book only to find it was a waste of your mental power and limited leisure time can be too risky to chance. Hence, wandering in Banes and Noble sipping a Starbucks for me has become my time to look at what books seem to last week after week in a highly selective process of choosing the one you hope will at least meet your expectations, if not exceed them. So it was that I came across the book The Light Between Oceans. I kept seeing the cover all throughout my favorite bookstores for months, and there was something about the title that implied a good read. I took a chance and while I was not blown away, I did enjoy the story. When the movie adaptation was announced, I added it to my ďto watch on Blu-ray Disc listĒ, and like the book, I enjoyed the film version, but I wasnít blown away.

The Light Between Oceans tells the story of a World War I vet, Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender), an honest and responsible man who is hired as a lighthouse keeper for the Janus Rock lighthouse in Western Australia. He meets and eventually marries a local girl Isabel (Alicia Vikandler) who helps him recover from the trauma of war and open up again to another person. Their idyllic life on the remote Janus Rock is overshadowed years later by Isabelís miscarriages. Her desire to be a mother becomes almost paralyzing until fate brings the couple a boat lost at sea containing an infant girl and her deceased father. Isabel, in the middle of grief after another miscarriage, sees this as an answer to their pain, but Tom is hesitant to bring the child into their family instead of alerting authorities that a child has been found. Despite Tomís misgivings, he acquiesces to his wifeís wishes and agrees to raise the infant as their daughter, Lucy. A trip back to Isabelís hometown for Isabelís family to meet Lucy leads to an unexpected discovery for Tom. While waiting for the vicor to baptize young Lucy, Tom sees a woman (played by Rachel Weitz) grieving at a tombstone only to discover it is the widow of the dead man as well as the mother of Lucy. Wracked with guilt, he leaves a note for her letting her know her husband is resting in Godís hands and her daughter is being taken care of. Tom and Isabel return to the island for several happy years until the fortieth celebration of the lighthouse brings them back to the mainland and Tom once again encounters Lucyís real mother Hannah. This time, the decision he is faced with becomes even more urgent, and his struggle with what is right as compared to what makes his wife happy becomes even more difficult.

The movie does a wonderful job of staying true to the book. The main leads, Fassbender and Vikandler are perfect casting for Tom and Isabel as both do a terrific job portraying the complexities of both characters. Fassbender, in particular, gives a very strong performance. While Tom is a strong, silent, upstanding man, his love for his wife makes him multi-layered and Fassbender makes the character incredibly sympathetic and moving. While I could care less about the entertainment news of how Fassbender and Vikandler became a real-life couple after meeting while making this movie, they really bring a believable chemistry and feeling of love between their characters. And at the end of the day, this movie is an exploration of love. Love between husband and wife, father and daughter (Hannah and her father played by Bryan Brown who is as usual terrific in his scenes and makes you wish he was in more movies), and parent and child. Yes, the movie, like the book, definitely explores questions of morality as well, but in the end it stresses that love is a binding force that brings us to one another.

With all of that said, there are some issues with the movie that the terrific cast cannot help, such as the pacing. The movie is just over two hours, but for some reason, seems longer. It could be because attention to the beauty and isolation of the island is a focus of the filmmaker, as is the evolution of Tom and Isabelís love for one another before the boat with the baby and her father arrives to propel the plot. While both of these elements are necessary, it feels at times like too much attention is paid to these and it keeps the story from moving forward at a better pace. Another issue is the sound itself as at times the sound of the wind and the ocean makes it difficult for dialogue to be understood. Overall, the movie does well by the book, but somehow falls short in making the story seem more epic given the obvious time and talent that went into making the movie.

The Light Between Oceans skips the years of therapy that the kid is going to need on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Buena Vista Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 33 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing only scant grain at times and no defects from the source materials. Much of the film is made up sweeping landscape shots of the island, and these scenes show a notable amount of depth and scale. The crispness of these moments is also impressive. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is also worth noting, as the image is rarely soft. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 6.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The most notable thing here is the omnipresent sound of wind and surf, which serves as a constant reminder of the nautical setting. These sounds fill the front and rear channels, enveloping us in the breeze. The pounding waves on the island provide some mild subwoofer effects. The film's score sounds very good.

The Light Between Oceans Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Derek Cianfrance and Film Studies Professor Phil Solomon. "Bringing The Light to Life" (17 minutes) focuses on the making of the film and features a nice amount of on-set footage and comments from Cianfrance and the cast. We learn about the unusual working circumstances in which the actors lived on-set and truly did the activities we see in the movie. From there, the piece looks at how certain scenes portray the characters. "Lighthouse Keeper" (6 minutes) examines the lighthouse used in the film and the importance of the location in telling the story. This includes facts about the actual geography of the region.

Review Copyright 2017 by Mike Long