Anyone who has read, studied or liked Thomas Hardy should watch this movie, based on M. L. Stedman’s novel. Fans of Alicia Vikander definitely do not want to miss this; and those who are not familiar with this actress should go and see for themselves what a wonderful actress she is.
From the beginning to the end, the movie is one picturesque opus.
The story begins in Dec 1918. Tom (Michael Fassbender) signs on to become a lighthouse keeper at Janus after nearly four years in the War so that he can savour the time of quiet and being alone. He has been left numb and frozen by the horros and experience and also can’t talk about the past, including his parents. The person who would change his plan is Isabel (Alicia Vikander) whom he marries. (Waltzing Matilda is the song played by the trio for the couple’s first dance after the wedding ceremony.)
Janus is in the direction of two oceans and no woman is allowed to visit unless she is the wife of the lighthouse keeper. Janus is named after the goddess January that has two faces. The month of January is also one in which people look forward to the new year and reflect back on the old.
By 31 May 1921, the couple have buried their first miscarried baby. Isabel is depressed and picked out notes on the old, terribly-out-of-tune piano. One day, Tom engaged a piano tuner to fix it up – such a surpise for Isabel – and the tune that he plays is from the Anna Magdelena Notebook by J S Bach, which is also what she plays later when Isabel suddenly starts to miscarry a second time.
On 25 April 1925, this baby is buried. Just two days later, a boat washes up and they find a baby and her dead father in it. It is such a coincidence that the baby appears now. Isabel persuades Tom to keep the baby as nobody knows she’s not theirs as Isabel’s pregnancy is known. They give the man a decent burial. Tom wants to report the matter, but Isabel is convincing in her argument that they can keep the baby and they are not doing anything wrong in keeping her and raising her as their own for the authorities would probably have been the baby to an orphanage otherwise as there is no school or any other amenity in the vicinity of the lighthouse. She insists they are saving the baby and the baby is theirs because she has come so soon after the miscarriage. Tom finally records that the baby has arrived early, taking them by surprise.
They name the baby Lucy. Later, before Tom pushes the boat out to sea, he finds a fancy rattle that suggests that the baby must have come from a wealthy family.
On the day of Lucy’s christening, Tom discovers a widow (Rachel Weitz as Hannah) weeping by the grave of her husband and baby daughter lost at sea on 26 April 1925, and realises she must be the natural mother of Lucy.
From this moment on, the story gets really Tom Hardy-ish: all decisions will have consequences. I’m not giving away anymore of the plot here. Except to jump to the end of the movie where a grown up Lucy visits Tom with her newborn, named Christopher.
Filmed in New Zealand and Tasmania, the views are spectacular! Scenic and ilyllic and picturesque. The original music composed really brings out the atmosphere and moods of the different scenes.