It’s a grand, old-school saga full of sacrifice and betrayal and loss, and just when the audience is gearing up for a powerfully tragic resolution of the kind that Thomas Hardy might have written, the movie veers off into Nicholas Sparks territory instead.
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This is a widescreen ode to the beauty of absolution, told with such constant sincerity that you can’t help but want to forgive its flaws.
The Hollywood Reporter by Jon Frosch
The film, poised awkwardly between costume-drama prestige and all-out schmaltz, is so busy sweeping us up in a swirl of music, scenery and beautiful, suffering faces that it forgets to do the actual work of earning our emotions.
Charlotte Observer by Lawrence Toppman
Writer-director Derek Cianfrance knew he was dealing with a story full of coincidences when he adapted M.L. Stedman’s novel The Light Between Oceans, so he avoided melodrama by holding himself and his excellent actors in check. The result is a movie that crackles quietly without flaring up into an emotional blaze.
The Light Between Oceans winds up taking one too many self-serious twists and turns. The film earns its darkness, but it might have been even more affecting if it didn’t shrink from the light.
Chicago Sun-Times by Richard Roeper
A gorgeous but plodding and borderline ludicrous period-piece weeper.
A lovely, but uneven moral tale of love, forgiveness and heartrending misdeeds, Derek Cianfrance’s The Light Between Oceans is conceptually sound, and at times, beautifully gut-wrenching. But the plaintive picture often becomes engrossed in conveying at all times just how precious life and love is.
It’s a romance novel, a romantic fable, brought to life by a pretty good cast that cannot make it more than is, that cannot give it more meaning and make it less frustrating than novelist M.L. Stedman intended.
Derek Cianfrance's film is a beautifully sustained study in adult themes of emotional crisis.
Screen International by Tim Grierson
Poignant and frustrating in equal measure, The Light Between Oceans aspires to be an elegant melodrama, but the intelligence that director Derek Cianfrance and his capable cast bring to bear eventually becomes overwhelmed by the story’s emotional manipulations.