Director Derek Cianfrance's (Blue Valentine), film is based on M.L. Stedman's popular 2012 novel. At first glance, this drama appears to be a love story, but its really a morality tale with serious consequences.
Michael Fassbender plays Tom Sherbourne, a solemn man who returns to his native Australia after fighting in World War I, with a great deal of guilt for coming home safely when so many young men did not.
He's offered a job tending a lighthouse on a remote island off the coast of Australia and even though he's warned that the solitude could drive him a little crazy, he takes the position.
On Janus Island (a fictional place), Tom tends to his daily chores. He has a few supply deliveries from two men, and goes to the mainland infrequently, On one of those visits, he meets Isabel (Alicia Vikander), a beauty who lives with her parents. They are complete opposites, she is lively and bold, whereas he's quiet and somber and its an immediate attraction. The actors have great chemistry, so much so, that they have become a couple off-screen also.
After weeks of writing letters to each other, they marry and return to their private island to start a family. They are in love and happy, but soon their love is tested by tragedy, and also an unexpected arrival on their shores, that changes their lives forever.
Filming took place in New Zealand and Australia. The village is quaint and as one would imagine it to be and the ocean scenes are majestic and beautiful.
Rachel Weisz is impressive in a co-starring role. Fassbender, who is on-screen almost continually, is great in a difficult role. His emotions are less showy, but deep and meaningful. Loving his wife so much that he'd do anything for her, but struggling with his decision. Vikander is also good as Isabel. She has to be young and carefree one minute and then experience a devastation that is gut-wrenching to watch. Its a film where the performances drew me in immediately.