Armed with principles
lian coast not far from Albany, a lonely occupation that seems to allow him the opportunity to reflect on the past and consider where his life is taking him.
His tentative interactions with the inhabitants of the nearest mainland community start to draw him out of his shell. The locals are welcoming, kind, understanding. They include Ralph Addicott (Jack Thompson), captain of the little ship that shuttles between Janus and the mainland, schoolteacher Bill Graysmark (Garry McDonald), whose sons were killed in the war, his wife Violet (Jane Menelaus) and their daughter Isabel (Alicia Vikander).
Tom and Isabel are attracted to one another and marry, but their isolated existence on the tiny island presents unexpected challenges. When Tom encounters Grace (Rachel Weisz), a young widow mourning her husband and baby daughter, everything changes.
This romantic melodrama was mainly filmed in New Zealand, near Dunedin, but some scenes were also shot in Tasmania. The gifted cinematographer Adam Arkapaw ( Animal Kingdom) Hacksaw Ridge The Light Between Oceans handles the visual side of things in classical style, while the American director, Derek Cianfrance, who made Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines, confidently probes every subtle element of the beautifully structured drama. Experiencing a film like this offers a pointed reminder as to just how shallow and manipulative are the average Hollywood melodramas of the 21st century (think of the dire Nicholas Sparks adaptations); there may be elements in this story that might for some viewers seem improbable, but Cianfrance and his exceptional cast make them believable.
Fassbender is one of the most charismatic leading men making films right now, and he makes Tom Sherbourne a completely realised character, a man attempting to overcome one trauma, only to find himself in the middle of another. Swedish actress Vikander, who speaks without a hint of an accent, is also excellent, making the fragile Isabel someone with whom we can identify even when she’s obviously making some very bad decisions. And Weisz, too, has rarely been better than she is here.
Typecasting can be so distracting that the first moment I saw McDonald on screen I was tempted to smile, but the actor acquits himself very well as an upright pillar of the local society, while Bryan Brown, who plays Grace’s father, is also in fine form playing a dignified man who is determined to seek justice for his daughter.
If I seem to have been enigmatic in describing what actually happens during the film, that’s because, for those who have not read the book, there are some significant surprises in store — while those who have will, I think, be satisfied with this handsome adaptation. reviews will return next week.
Scenes from show Andrew Garfield, top, Teresa Palmer with Garfield, above left, and Rachel Griffiths, above; left, Alicia Vikander and Florence Clery in