The Cine City cinema in Vlissingen has undergone an unbelievable transformation in the past couple of weeks. The international film festival Film By The Sea had the theatre buzzing with excitement, award ceremonies and unique film screenings. For us students, the film festival offers the opportunity to become one of the members of the International Student Jury and dive into the most interesting films and workshops. But besides being on the jury, you can also just cycle to the cinema (or take the bus or train, for those of you who are exceptionally lazy – including yours truly) and watch a truly gorgeous film on the silver screen.
I personally was really really excited to go and see “The Light Between Oceans” (2016), an adaptation of M.L. Stedman’s bestselling novel, starring Alicia Vikander, Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz. The film follows the story of Tom and Isabel Sherbourne, who live in a remote lighthouse by the Australian coast. The couple is very happily married and want nothing more than a child, but two miscarriages leave them both heartbroken. When one day a baby drifts ashore, Tom and Isabel decide to keep her and raise the child as if she were their own. But the truth always comes out, which has disastrous consequences for Tom and Isabel. Now that I have finally seen “The Light Between Oceans” at Film By The Sea, I can honestly say it was exactly what I had expected: a truly beautiful and gripping film, with remarkable performances and gorgeous cinematography. What I hadn’t expected, however, was how much the film actually touched me.
Even though I have never experienced a similar situation to Tom and Isabel’s, I very deeply emphasized with the main characters and became very invested in their story and emotions. The happiness of Tom and Isabel in the beginning of the film, illustrated by beautiful sunlit images and heartfelt scenes of the couple on their remote island, made me smile uncontrollably. This while the pain and the heartbreak of the couple’s miscarriages and fight to keep their child made me feel incredibly sad and truly moved. It has been a while since I’ve been so invested in a film and its characters, so much I even found myself crying by the end of the film, and the main reason are the remarkable performances by Alicia Vikander, Michael Fassbender and Rachel Weisz.
Of course, when you put two Academy Award winners and one nominee together in one film, the acting is bound to be good. All three performances are heartbreakingly beautiful, but especially the one from Alicia Vikander, who once more proves why she’s one of the best young actresses in play right now. What I love about her acting is the stillness and the subtlety of her performance, in which she reminds me of Soairse Ronan and Keira Knightley. As a viewer, you can completely understand what Vikander’s character is going through emotionally and physically by simply looking at her eyes. The actress is able to convey so much with one simple look, which is incredibly impressive and very interesting to look at.
The subtle beauty of the acting is mirrored in the cinematography. “The Light Between Oceans” takes place on the coast of Australia, which is showcased through an alternation of wide-angled views of the ocean and the lighthouse, and intense close-up shots of the grass dancing in the wind, the waves crashing into the shore and the two lovers on the island. This really creates a feeling of isolation, which I imagine is very similar to what Tom and Isabel must feel, and draws the viewer even closer the film’s story. The entire time you’re watching the film, you feel as if you’re right there with Tom and Isabel, tied to the lighthouse on the cliffs. And for just over two hours, that’s exactly where you want to be.