Review: Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander in The Light Between the Oceans

The Light Between Oceans with Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander. Picture: Entertainment One

The Light Between Oceans with Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander. Picture: Entertainment One - Credit: PA

The Light Between Oceans is like The Shining recast as an epic, historical, melodromantic tearjerker.

The Light Between Oceans (12A)


Michael Fassbender returns from the Great War in search of a bit of solitude and finds his Overlook hotel in the Janus Lighthouse.

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Facing two oceans on the coast of western Australia, it's 100 miles to the nearest person and the previous holder of the post went mad.

Fassbender's Tom Sherbourne is no Jack Torrance, he's quiet and taciturn.

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Luckily, the vivacious Alicia Vikander agrees to be his wife and she has enough emotion for the both of them. If a life source is needed to restore life to a man made numb by warfare, than there can be no better choice than Vikander. On screen, feelings flow out of her with almost indecent ease, and her skin seems to have a luminous paleness.

The film looks magnificent, Fassbender and Vikander are arguably the two best screen performers around at the moment and Derek Cianfrance's previous film A Place Beyond The Pines felt like the work of a major talent. So why is the result barely more than passable, a lot of wide open space inadequately filled?

A theme of the narrative is living a life to which they weren't born into and though the opening credits assure us that this is Australia in 1918, Fassbender, Vikander and, later, Rachel Weisz seem neither Australian nor denizens of 1918.

You can understand non-Australians being cast in star roles, but essential to the plot is a minor character who is German and, crucially, sounds German, and even he doesn't have the requisite accent. So you have this elaborately photographed location, playing host to a cuckoos' nest cast.

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