The Light Between Oceans follows the story of Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender), a solider who settles down as a lighthouse keeper after returning home from war, wanting peace and quiet after may years of fighting. He meets a young woman named Isabel Graysmark (Alicia Vikander), and after literally one date, the two fall in love with each other, getting married and moving in together on the lighthouse, away from the worries and woes of the rest of the world. After a series of miscarriages, things aren't looking hopeful for Tom and Isabel, but a small boat arrives at their lighthouse, carrying with it a dead body and a crying baby. The two lovers adopt the child as their own, but years later, things become difficult when they run into the child's mother, Hannah (Rachel Weisz), who still believes her baby to be dead.
Australian cinematographer Adam Arkapaw comes to the rescue with his gorgeous camerawork here, crafting a variety of truly beautiful shots, especially his luscious landscape ones, frequently consisting of long pants over water. It really does help when the set design and general location of the film was just candy to my eyes, the island upon which it's set looking welcoming and relaxing, and it allowed for the cinematography to stand out in comparison to most aspects of this movie. Arkapaw is building up quite a résumé, now having worked on such films as Animal Kingdom, Macbeth and the upcoming Assassin's Creed, as well as season 1 of True Detective, which can all agree was the good season.
The biggest problem with this movie lies within the script, written by Cianfance himself. The dialogue varies from decent to corny and while the premise is interesting, it's so melodramatic, sappy and frequently stupid, trying to play with several different plot points, but giving all the wrong ones the most screen time. It's a very slow opening, taking its time in setting up these characters, yet when some of the more interesting things are taking place, they're rushed past, the gravity of the situation never felt. There wasn't nearly as much emotional depth as there needed to be, resulting in a story that I didn't feel attached to.
To sum up, The Light Between Oceans is an overly melodramatic story that ranges from interesting to stupid with no in-between, but every behind the scenes component of it just works, from the score to the cinematography to the directing to the performances, and I ended up enjoying it. Barely.