“I’ve reached the conclusion that if Derek Cianfrance had done this with Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander instead of The Light Between Oceans, it might have been a better outcome all round.”
OK this one is difficult to talk about without spoilers, so if you’re fine with that, read on after the video below.
Right then. There have been many reviews that say this film is terrible. That the premise is immoral. That the actions of the main male character are so appalling, the film isn’t to be watched.
I disagree. The film has several problems, but the heinous choices made by Chris Pratt’s Jim are not part of it. How many films have you seen where people are murdered? Raped? Threatened? Or have other unthinkable things happen to them? Think about The Godfather. Many of the things which happen are not very nice at all. But I don’t hear people saying you shouldn’t watch it because the Corleone family is immoral.
The first problem is that trailer ⇑. To be honest, I wasn’t that interested in seeing the film after watching the trailer, because those two are not my favourite actors and the idea of a silly space rom-com didn’t appeal. But of course if you see the movie, you’ll know that the romance bit lasts for around 30 minutes, and then Jennifer Lawrence discovers that Chris Pratt deliberately woke her from suspended animation because he was lonely, thus condemning her to spending the rest of her life with just him on an otherwise deserted space ship, because they would both probably die of old age before reaching their destination. By the way, she’s called Aurora, which is second only to Unobtanium in the “we’ll think of a better name later, but this will do for now” scheme of things. So, marketing.
Secondly, chucking in a mad action sequence in the third act in order to tie everything up neatly afterwards was a bad idea. I know a big budget, studio movie like this demands it but it was very tacky, and necessitated the bizarre introduction of a short-lived Laurence Fishburne, to teach them what they needed to know so that the end could happen.
Thirdly, a combination of the writing and performances. This felt like a really good idea for an indie film where the focus is Jim’s enduring guilt in conflict with his desire not to be alone and his feelings for Aurora. But Hollywood got hold of it and turned it into something less than that, and much bigger than that, leaving the serious central issue feeling very slight. To be fair, there is never any doubt that Jim is struggling internally before, during and after making his decision – we know that he knows he done a bad thing. But not only does the writing not explore this sufficiently, but Chris Pratt just isn’t good enough to convey what there was of it. Particularly when he shares a decent amount of screen time with Michael Sheen, who unfortunately shows him up big time.
Having written all of this, I’ve reached the conclusion that if Derek Cianfrance had made this with Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander instead of The Light Between Oceans, it might have been a better outcome all round.