The 400-Word Review: The Light Between Oceans

By Sean Collier

September 6, 2016

Creepy and depressing. No thanks.

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Jeez, this movie.

This nonstop, relentless depression parade of a film.

So, it’s a romance with Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender in the lead roles, right? And they’re great performers, and obviously they make a handsome pair, so you think, “Hey, a grown-up love story - that’s a nice change of pace.” And maybe you’ve got a date night coming up, so you buy tickets to see these good-looking people fall in love. Because that’s Hollywood, right? That’s part of why we go to the movies.

But no — this is no Nicholas Sparks tale of love and redemption. This is a tactical emotional assault.

See, they live on this tiny island off of the Australian coast; he’s the lighthouse keeper. (Yeah, I thought that cliche was dead, too.) And they’re very much in love and there are montages of them just loving the hell out of each other. But she wants a baby, so they get going on making a baby.

The sex scenes are so-so. I know you wanted to ask.


But over the course of like 45 minutes, she has two miscarriages. Both scenes are harrowing. And it doesn’t look like she’ll be able to have a baby. When all of a sudden, a boat lands on the island with a dead guy — yes, a dead guy — and a still-living baby in it. And Fassbender has the right response, which is something like, “Umm, we should probably tell people that a corpse and an infant were just coughed out of the sea,” but Vikander is all “Yeah but I want this baby though,” because her damn character is nothing but a crazy, baby-needing mad woman.

Why yes, it is problematic.

Look, in case you end up accidentally watching this on a plane or something, I won’t spoil anything from there, but let me say: It gets so much more depressing. It’s as if they sat down and tried to figure out the most depressing plot development that could occur at that point, then went with it, then moved on to the most depressing possible result of that, and so on and so on until you’ve been there for two hours and 15 minutes.

Yeah, two hours and 15 minutes.

I mean, the acting is good, and if you really love pretty pictures of lighthouses, this movie has plenty of them. But who needs the sadness? Seriously.

My Rating: 5/10

Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at



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