While in Cancun a few weeks ago, soaking up the last days of summer, I took a time out to check my email and catch up on a bit of work. One of my emails was an invite that I had been anticipating and dreading since the start of summer; it was an invitation to an advanced screening of The Light Between Oceans.
After nearly an hour of debating with myself, I decided that this was a movie that I should invite my mom to preview with me, instead of my usual viewing partner, my husband. I ran it by him and he quickly noted that he had no desire to see the movie … I believe “total chick flick” fell out of his mouth. I shared two trailers with my mom and asked her if she wanted to be my screening date. She took a few minutes to evaluate my body language and then asked if I was certain I wanted to go. I gave her a resounding yes and that was that; we went back to the business of vacation merry making.
The day before the advanced screening I was starting to second guess my decision. As someone who struggled with PCOS and infertility, someone who has been trying to conceive for years (very seriously trying for over a year), I try to be careful about the types of films that I see. As someone who is bipolar, that adds an extra element to the “excitement” and I strive to be extra careful that I don’t place myself in a situation that will trigger me. The more I learned about the film I wasn’t sure it was something that I should see but I had agreed to go, I had a date, and I wanted to see the movie.
The day arrived and before I knew it, mom and I were on the way to the theater. She noted that she had seen a bit more about the film and was a bit uncertain about us going to the screening. We joked about going for dinner and drinks instead. Unfortunately, my car knows the way and soon we found ourselves in the parking lot and soon in our seats. I was fidgety as I waited for the lights to dim and the movie to begin and then it did ….
As the movie began I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful it was. The location, the filming, the story, the cast. Tom and Isabel were masterfully portrayed by Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander. They drew me in and I couldn’t help but smile as their story unfolded and their love blossomed. And then, just when I was enthralled, complete sucked in, and in love with this couple … everything changed.
I shook my head in disbelief, sat on the edge of my seat anticipating what would happen next, and sometimes I even wanted to yell at the screen in hopes that it would make a difference. The smiles were gone, tears took their place, and I was grateful to have a box full of tissues in my bag. At one point things became so intense that I found my eyes darting around the theater trying to debate which exit would accommodate my need to escape the fastest. I couldn’t believe what was happening, the story that was unraveling before my eyes, and it was then that I realized that while I was cheering for both sides, I was leaning more towards one.
I left the movie in tears. As we started our journey home I told my mom that I needed a few minutes and then I cried and somewhat ranted. The only word that I can use to describe how the movie left me would be … EMPTY. And as I write this, that is still how I feel today, when I think about the film. That is likely the reason why it has been over a week since I saw the movie and I am just now writing my review, three days after it debuted in theaters.
Perhaps I am left with this feeling because of how the movie ended or perhaps just the overall idea of the film. Or, maybe, if we scratch below the surface, it’s more than that. A phrase that I like to turn is … It gave me all the feels … and this movie did just that. It took me on an emotional roller coaster and left me feeling helpless and in the dark when I came out on the other side. Even today there are feelings that I can’t quite understand, process, or deal with so perhaps the movie did just what it aimed to do. It made me think and feel.
I read comments about the movie and some of them caught my attention. There were words like unethical and immoral tossed around. Someone said we, the viewer, was tricked by the movie makers. They pointed out the beautiful love story that was built, how we couldn’t help but fall for the characters, and then all hell broke loose. Were we tricked? Did the creators seduce us before dropping a metaphorical bomb? I know it is human nature to point the finger in another direction.
Here is what I have concluded … I love the movie but hate it and will likely never see it again.
As I sat in the theater I was able to identify with Isabel and her choices, her reasoning, why she did what she did, and often I found myself cheering for her. Does that make me unethical or immoral? Or perhaps my life and experiences cloud my thoughts.
On the other hand, as I looked at little LucyGrace, I couldn’t help but see my daughter’s face and then I identified with Hannah, played by the genius that is Rachel Weisz.
The truth is, I can’t imagine either position. I rambled about the movie all the way home. I came home and told my husband all about it, even though he requested that I not. I even found myself sizing him up and questioning what he would do if in Tom’s position.
Did the movie end as it should? Probably. Did it end as I wanted it to or as I thought it should? I don’t know, my answer may depend on the day and my mood when you ask. Maybe try asking again tomorrow.
If you are on the lookout for a film that is soft and sweet or happy go lucky then this is not the film for you. If you are looking for something deeper that will give you all the feels ….
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Disclaimer: I received complimentary entry to an advanced screening of THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS to facilitate this review. Regardless, all opinions expressed are still my own. Photos and video courtesy of Walt Disney Studios.