With more than five movies released in the past year alone, including The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Ex Machina, and the latest installment of Jason Bourne, Swedish actress Alicia Vikander is taking the film industry by storm. In 2014, she starred as activist Vera Brittain in Testament of Youth alongside Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) and Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eddie the Eagle). Earlier this year, Vikander won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress courtesy of her amazing performance as Gerda in The Danish Girl. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s set to star in the reboot of the Lara Croft movie franchise to be released in 2018. Throughout her career, Vikander has played incredibly complex women with extraordinary depth and a unique understanding of the strength within each character. Her latest film, The Light Between Oceans, is no exception.
Based on the novel by M.L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans tells the story of a lighthouse keeper Tom and his wife Isabel living on an island off the coast of Australia. With visits to the mainland few and far between, the couple live a relatively simple life in a sort of isolated paradise. It isn’t until Isabel has suffered several miscarriages and one stillbirth that their unassuming life on the lighthouse turns into one of despair. When a boat washes ashore carrying a wailing baby and a dead man, Isabel and Tom are faced with conflicting values. Eventually, Tom reluctantly gives into Isabel’s wishes to keep the baby as their own. Two years later, a return to the mainland with their daughter Lucy and a fateful encounter will serve as a brutally harsh reminder of their decisions.
I absolutely loved the novel even more than I ever expected. Admittedly, I only read the book after watching the trailer because I will literally watch any movie with Alicia Vikander in it. I fell in love with the story, its characters, and their lives. The author does a fantastic job of setting up the scenery. The majestic surroundings of the lighthouse and the Australian coastline swept me away, and it felt like you were right there on the island with Tom and Isabel. I’ve always loved minute details in books because they always lend a feeling of quaintness and contentedness.
Having lived in isolation on the lighthouse for long periods of time, Isabel and Tom are basically in their own little world. Throughout the book, you get to really know the couple, including the heart-wrenching turmoil they going through during the miscarriages. Having witnessed Isabel’s profound grief, it’s completely understandable why Isabel would be so keen on keeping Lucy. Yet Tom’s strong sense of morals leaves him haunted and wary of their secret being discovered. Once they arrive back on the mainland – away from the shelter of the lighthouse – everything comes crashing down around them as the two are faced with one impossible choice after another. While reading the book, yo feel the anguish of all parties involved, and to say that it really tests your limits is an understatement. The emotional upheaval I, myself felt during the story was an insane roller coaster. One moment I felt furious, and the next incredibly sympathetic. But most of the time, I was utterly helpless as the characters dealt with the ramifications of their decisions, and the horrifying devastation that followed.
The emotional depth in the film is sure to shine through another stunning performance by Vikander. Add in the fact she’s starring in the movie with real-life partner Michael Fassbender, the romance on-screen will be all the more ethereal. (The hopeless romantic in me is so happy they’re together in real life as well!) With beautiful visuals and a story of flawed humans just trying to find happiness, The Light Between Oceans is one movie I can’t wait to see.
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