The Yawn Between Oceans
M.L. Stedman’s lyrical war novel comes to you on the big screen with much gut wrenching anguish you start wondering if isolation does play tricks on the mind, making ethics ambivalent. But despite the tears and the drama happening in that small isolated community, the film fails to touch any deeper chord.
‘He must turn to something solid, because if he didn’t, who knew where his mind or his soul could blow away to, like a balloon without ballast’... This is what the novelist writes about Tom Sherbourne, the man who chooses to become the keeper of the lighthouse on Janice Island. He meets Isobel on the mainland, she persuades him to marry and their honeymoon on the island is like a fairy tale.
But… But all the beautiful words just fail to translate into a visual spectacle and end up with two beautiful people ‘acting’ out love scenes. Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander smiling at each other too much, walking by the ocean, kissing in too many close ups. It’s tiring, because the narrative goes nowhere. The anguish and then anger and denial of the miscarriages that is expressed in words rather beautifully in the novel just looks like what you see in TV soaps day after sentimental day. What should connect with the audience just simply looks like they’re trying too hard.
Even the shots of the sea don’t offer anything spectacular (watch Atlantic - directed by Jan Willem van Ewijk, 2014; or even The Shallows - directed by Jaume Collet Sera, 2016, to be really wowed by seascapes). The story does move forward when they decide to keep a baby found in a dinghy. But here too, there’s too much soap-like drama that makes all the grown ups looking really ridiculous. One bad decision follows another and you can see the end from far, far away.
What could have been a tragic love story just ends up being oddly unpalatable. The director’s previously made Blue Valentine has so much more passion than this vanilla tragedy. Watch Light Between The Oceans on a lazy Sunday afternoon when there’s nothing good on the telly…
(this review appears on nowrunning dot com)