Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Light Between Oceans

Last night I saw The Light Between Oceans, starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander.

The year is 1923. Tom (Fassbender) and Isabel (Vikander) are a young couple in love, living a peaceful, isolated life in a lighthouse, where Tom is the sole caretaker. Devastated by recent losses, they're snapped out of their own grief when a dinghy washes up on the shore near their home. It contains a dead man and a very alive baby girl.

Though Tom's instinct is to log the discovery and immediately alert the authorities, Isabel thinks the "right" thing to do is to care for the baby as if she were their own and give the man a proper burial. So, that's what they do.

And they become the best parents the baby could ask for—doting on her endlessly; showering her with attention and love at every turn.

Life is undeniably good until they return to town to visit family and Tom discovers the woman who may be their new daughter's biological mother. He's immediately torn on what to do. Should he stay silent and continue his idyllic life, knowing this stranger is in unimaginable pain? Or should he do the "right thing" and confess to their crime, giving the child back to her rightful family, destroying every ounce of happiness that he and his family possess.

What should be a simple decision becomes a dreadful one, not only for the characters in this story, but for the audience having to choose sides. I fully admit: I was 100% on the fence.

Life's decisions aren't easy. And what the handbooks say (whether based on religion, ethics or society's moral code) may seem completely true on paper but totally backwards when coupled with the human experience.

Sometimes there aren't easy answers and sometimes unfavorable actions are truly motivated by purity or grief or love. It is possible.

Here, the pursuit of happiness wasn't even selfish; everyone involved cared most about the young girl. There were no bad people or villains in sight.

I can't share the decision that Tom made, for that would spoil the movie, but I can say that this film was so well-acted and real that everyone was left sobbing in their seats at the end.

All of us, crying together, about love.