Derek Cianfrance misses the boat going for more melodrama than actual drama leaving the audience looking at their watches
Oscar season is finally here…or we taught. The Light Between Oceans was supposed to be the movie that set the bar for this season’s Oscar. Unfortunately, if that’s the case then the bar isn’t too high. By the premise, this is your typical Oscar-bait movie. A lighthouse owner (Michael Fassbender) meets a beautiful woman, named Isabel (Alicia Vikander). As they get married and try to have kids, nothing goes their way. Isabel just can’t have a baby. However, their luck changes one day as a boat drift into the ocean close to their home with a baby girl inside. Overcome with emotions, Isabel sees the perfect opportunity to finally have a kid of her own, except this isn’t her biological child. The film is directed by Derek Cianfrance, director of The Place Beyond The Pines and Blue Valentine.
As the movie opens, the audience is greeted with a beautiful waterfront sunrise shot and a man applying for a job at a lighthouse. Right away, the tone is established as calm and delicate. As we get introduced to the lighthouse man and his love at first sight, the viewers immediately see an extraordinary chemistry between Fassbender and Vikander. This chemistry transcends in their incredible performances as well. They both deliver poignant moments and convey emotions beautifully. Now, the story is set and it can start to develop.
Conversely, the story doesn’t start instead, Cianfrance opts to give his audience members some melodramatic cliché love scenes wrapped with gorgeous cinematography. The problem is that these scenes, while beautiful to look at, don’t convey any emotions at all. The terrible classical score and the excessive effort in trying to make its audience cry doesn’t help exude emotions but instead helps hide them even further. The close up on teary eyes and tears in people’s face is somehow suppose to make the audience cry. Instead, it feels awkward. This goes on and on, only stopping at actual dramatic moments like Vikander’s character’s child lost. Even after this event, the movie still doesn’t start its story and keeps giving the viewers more emotionless character moments.
However, Cianfrance tries hard to make something out of every scene and to give him credit, he does succeed in some scenes. Though, most of the time, the atmosphere is too soapy and melodramatic to get any feeling for what is happening.
It’s only after an hour and a half that the story actually starts and while it does get more engaging, the melodrama is still present. Cianfrance is still forcing emotions out of its audience and all that effort is focused on that particular goal, make you cry. The story suffers for it and Cianfrance chooses the easy clichés instead of telling an actual love story. What are good plot points become less impactful because of the movie’s inability to make its character moments feel genuine from the start.
The Light Between Oceans suffers from its own efforts resulting in a more sophisticated version of Days of Our Lives. The exquisite performances giving by Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender are drowned in melodrama leaving for a more over the top feel.