The moral dilemmas of M.L. Stedman’s best-selling novel brought vividly on screen
Director Derek Cianfrance’s (The Place Beyond the Pines) exquisite adaptation of M.L Stedman’s literary sensation is permeated with intense emotional paradoxes, with turbulent elation and grief, with denial and conscience, separation and reconciliation. Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender), a veteran of The Great War, seeks to insulate himself from the harrowing aftershocks of the Western Front on the island of Janus Rock in western Australia, where he finds sanctuary and purpose as a lighthouse keeper. The rugged beauty and tempestuous weather provide the setting for a star-crossed romance with Isabel Graysmark (Alicia Vikander), an impulsively naive and beautiful local woman who has lost two brothers in the war. The couple’s inability to conceive clouds the serenity of the island with an agony that is palpable – until the shrill cry of an infant rips out of nowhere, reverberating against the rocks, as it floats in a dinghy toward the shore. Blinded by maternal instinct, Isabel is convinced it is a “gift from God,” putting her at odds with her highly principled husband’s conscience. When Tom locates the child’s heartbroken mother, Hannah Roennfeldt (Rachel Weisz), a fateful collision is inevitable. Shot in Tasmania and New Zealand, the breathtaking, evocative scenery serves as an additional protagonist.