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Movie review + GIVEAWAY: The Light Between Oceans


GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED: WINNERS OF THE 2-FOR-1 PASSES HAVE BBEN NOTIFIED. They are Amber, Ben, Karen and Ruth. Congratulations! I will post your passes as soon as I have your postal details. Thanks to everyone! ~~Sheryl


Being fifty-something, I long ago gave up believing that nothing dramatic ever happens in an isolated setting. I give you Lord of the Flies, The Shining, The Blue Lagoon, Six Days, Seven Nights, Castaway and, of course, Gilligan’s Island.

Remote settings magnify the action, putting the players and their foibles under tighter scrutiny. Away from the moral governors of society and civilisation, family and friends, decision-making takes on new possibilities.

And so it is in the movie The Light Between Oceans, where the characters make life-altering choices in isolation of their usual world.



The Light Between Oceans

In cinemas (Australia) from 3 November 2016.

Directed by Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines, Blue Valentine)

Starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz + Jack Thompson, Bryan Brown, Garry McDonald

Based on M.L. Stedman’s bestselling Australian novel


Janus Rock – the rocky and rugged island home to only a lighthouse and keeper couple, Tom and Isabel – is the movie’s setting.

In a nutshell … one day a rowboat washes ashore. Inside, a dead man and a live baby girl. Tom and Isabel make a decision to keep the child and raise her as their own. That’s the turning point that sets up the remaining narrative. From then on it’s about consequences, guilt, morality and love. With a healthy dose of reckoning threaded in for good measure.

Tom is a traumatised veteran of the same war that took Isabel’s two brothers. Together they share more loss. So, when the thing they most yearn for (literally) washes up on their shore, why wouldn’t they convince themselves it’s “meant to be”? Hang on … because it’s morally wrong. But what if, in the moment, your usually high moral output is skewed by the isolation of your island rock, the wanting and the opportunity the universe has served you up? And can you live with your decision, even when fate brings you face-to-face with its consequences?

light between oceans, movie review, entertainment, love story

Would you? Could you? That’s the essence of this story as it unfolds across a How deep is your love? redemption and reckoning arc. Sigh.

It’s a beautiful tale, breathtakingly rendered for the screen. The cinematography is mesmerising, depicting Janus Rock’s loneliness and isolation, its position between the two oceans. Tom and Isabel, too, are stranded between two worlds – the past and the hope of their future together. They’ve come to Janus Rock to hide from the world, yet the world has reached out to them with a double-dooming moral dilemma.

Director, Derek Cianfrance describes the movie setting as: “An island of duality; of light and dark, of love and hate, of truth and lies. It’s an island where great pleasures and great pains unfold, where life and death happen. It always felt like a mythical place to me, and I was excited to create this island that no one had ever been to.”

There’s much to love about this movie. My highlights include:

  • Isabel’s wardrobe, always in neutral tones and beautiful lacy fabrics, is worthy of a vintage wedding Pinterest board. Textured and tactile, yet understated. Even her washing flapping in the wind is beautiful.
  • The cinematography and locations (New Zealand + Tasmania) evoke a genuine sense of wild isolation, the beauty of remoteness … and the terror. I love what drones have done for film.
  • The cast is impressive and the director’s skill gets you connecting intimately with the characters at every level, the big players and the bit-parters.
  • The expert unfurling of the story layers character upon character to create a dense experience, even within this unpopulated, finite setting.

And, yes, it’s a tearjerker.

Confession: I haven’t read M. L Stedman’s novel on which the movie’s based, but I hear it’s fabulous and that the movie is a sympathetic rendering. If you have, let me know what you thought and whether you’ll be checking out the movie version. I usually prefer book-before-movie, but this time I’m out of sync.

If you enjoy a tale of love and loss that takes you on an emotional journey in an isolated landscape, then this is a movie for you.



The kind folk at Entertainment One have given me five (5) two-for-one in-season passes for THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS to give away to lucky readers. If you’d like one, just comment (anything) below and I’ll use a randomiser to choose the lucky six.

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I’ll call it at 6pm Sunday (AEDST) 6 November, contact the winners for their postal details + post the passes (priority post) on Monday 7 November. Winners announced here. Good luck!

NOTE: Giveaway for Australian readers only. Passes valid until the end of the film’s season at all participating cinemas including selected independents. Present the pass and receive two tickets for the price of one full-priced adult ticket.

ANOTHER NOTE: Entertainment One invited me to an advanced screening of The Light Between Oceans (at no cost to me).

8 thoughts on “Movie review + GIVEAWAY: The Light Between Oceans

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, too, Ruth. I thought I spied “the nut” at Stanley (Tas) in the background but maybe not. 🙂 I’ve popped you in the draw … perhaps you’ll enjoy seeing it again. Thanks. 😉

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