A wonderfully acted and beautifully shot drama. One of the better ones.
A lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Alicia Vikander) living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from a drifting rowing boat.
I wasn’t the biggest fan of Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond The Pines. At the time of release, I can remember describing it as drawn out over hyped drivel that was screaming for an Oscar. When I heard similar comparisons being made from other critics about this latest offering, it didn’t build up high hopes for me.
BUT I was pleasantly surprised and rewarded with a highly engaging and heartfelt affair.
We follow Tom Sherbourne fresh from the turmoil of the First World War as he takes up the light-keeper job on Janus Island. A man desperate to escape to the furthest part of the world. The sound of gun fire and war planes carrying across the wind. The vast ocean offering little refuge.
I felt the character of Sherbourne was a complete change for Fassbender. To see him play a much more vulnerable and reserved role. Delivering another superb turn.
Adam Arkapaw’s cinematography was breathtaking. It was amazing how Janus Island could look barren and desolate in one frame and beautiful and idyllic the next. Wonderful. Alexandre Desplat delivered another brilliant score that complimented the piece.
The slow burning pace allowed us to empathize with this traumatized veteran who already felt his time was up. That was until he met Isabel (The lovely Alicia Vikander).
You couldn’t fault the chemistry between them (Which is probably why they ended up together in real life). We watched their romance blossom as Tom’s stern demeanour was finally cracked by the inquisitive and youthful Isabel.
As much as the running time may have strung the story line, I was heavily invested in the pair. BUT with any drama, there is always tragedy lurking around the corner. We suffered with them as Isabel went through two miscarriages. Endured the merciless storms that riddled the small island.
Vikander was brilliant as Isabel. The darkness taking away her youth and smile as Tom dug another grave.
Until one fateful storm answered the poor girl’s prayer as a dingy washed up on the shore. A dead man with no papers and a healthy baby girl.
The kid actors that played young Lucy were brilliant. You can’t stop a child going off script and they made the scenes and dynamic that much more natural and entertaining. There were certain scenes where you could tell that Fassbender and the cast were having to improvise.
However as time passes, Tom soon discovers that a grieving widow in the village visits the cemetery mourning the husband and daughter that were lost at sea. Throwing him into a crisis of conscience with moral and ethical implications that could destroy the lives of his own family.
Rachel Weisz was superb as the grief-stricken Hannah. You could feel your own loyalties changing. Understanding Isabel’s loss and reasons for keeping the child BUT also feeling empathy for Hannah who has spent all those years believing her child was gone.
And I’m not sure if there is a rule BUT (of course) being set in Australia, we had Bryan Brown playing Hannah’s wealthy father.
As the inevitable drama unfolded, I didn’t know how it would end (Never reading the bestselling novel. A crime in itself). I was on tenterhooks.
I have to commend Derek Cianfrance for adapting and delivering an emotional story. To convey and capture such emotion so effectively. The grief, the trauma, a mother’s loss. Excellent. Of course that could not have been done without the support of a fantastic cast who played their parts to perfection.
I’m not one for romantic period pieces BUT this is one to watch.
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