Having read the novel, I thought I’d be prepared for the the cruel destiny that awaited Isabel and Tom Sherbourne, magnificently portrayed by Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender. Instead, I found myself blinking back tears for most of the 133 minutes.
From the start, I felt for the decorated soldier who desperately wanted to escape memories of the Great War and isolate himself as a lighthouse keeper on a remote island off the coast of Western Australia. But he is not alone for too long. Beautiful and vivacious Isabel, who is recovering from the loss of two brothers, claims Tom’s heart and proposes marriage after a short courtship.
Their love is palpable but soon tested by two miscarriages and Isabel’s lingering grief. And then a miracle (or not) occurs: a rowing boat washes up with a dead man and a crying baby aboard.
Disciplined and morally upright Tom wants to report the event but eventually gives into Isabel’s pleas, and they pass the baby off as their own. The unexpected discovery of the birth mother (Rachel Weisz) disrupts their lives and their consciences.
Questions arise: To whom does the child belong? What happens when a woman is forced to choose between loyalty to spouse or child? Can a sin of omission be corrected or forgiven?
Bring lots of tissue and prepare yourself for an emotional roller coaster.