The Light Between Oceans Reviewed by Clayton Barnett


The Premise
A lighthouse keeper and his wife living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat.

The Review
Everyone needs a good cry now and then and writer/director Derek Cianfrance definitely gets the water works going in this locally filmed tear-jerker.

Shot in Dunedin, Central Otago and Marlborough (as well as Tasmania) this film is not short of gorgeous cinematic landscapes, especially the central lighthouse located on the remote Cape Campbell. Spending five weeks filming there wasn’t an ordeal for our leading duo - the on-screen sparks could light up the lighthouse alone and definitely shows how their fictional love became a real-life romance.

And the pair do a lot of heavy lifting thanks to the heart breaking story based on the book by M. L. Stedman. Fassbender is already one of our generation’s greats but Alicia Vikander’s star is definitely shining brighter after her Oscar win for The Danish Girl and the excellent Ex Machina. They give powerful performances, even if the material does get a little soppy at times. Rachel Weisz provides able support, along with Aussie veterans like Bryan Brown and keep an eye out for a few familiar Kiwi faces like Emily Barclay and Elizabeth Hawthorne.

Cianfrance is known for his heartbreak, his debut was the brutal breakup Blue Valentine, and he pulls no punches here, even I was sniffling away during the heart-punching epilogue. Though he probably nudges this a bit overboard in the melodrama, and it’s definitely 20 minutes too long. There are still some beautiful moments though and the design is earthy and authentic too, thanks to Cianfrance’s regular costume designer and the production designer from The Great Gastby.

The Verdict
The Light Between Oceans does what it says on the tissue box – you’ll cry like you did during The Notebook but still feel warm inside seeing our stunning coast onscreen.

The Trailer


The Info
Releases: 3rd November 2016
Rating: TBC
Duration: 132 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz
Director: Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond The Pines)

The Extras
One of two 2016 releases to be filmed in the rare location of Tasmania, Australia, which hardly hosts film productions. The other one being Lion (2016).

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander revealed that Derek Cianfrance made them live together on set for six weeks.

"The Light Between Oceans" will be the last DreamWorks film to be released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures through Touchstone Pictures under the original agreement.

Derek Cianfrance's fourth film and the first film of his to be adapted from a novel.

In the novel, Tom is 28 years old and Isabel is 18 years old. Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander were 37 and 25 years old respectively when the film was shot.

Five people portrayed the character Lucy/Grace: twins Elliot Newbery and Evangeline Newbery as a baby; Georgie Gascoigne as a one-year-old; Florence Clery as a four-year-old and Caren Pistorius as an adult.


Prior to filming in Stanley, the historic wharf was rebuilt with a rustic edge. Locals of Stanley adopted the 1920s look prior to filming and hereby many men grew beards for their roles as extras.