Reel Reviews

‘The Light Between Oceans’

A-III – adults


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Nature and Nurture

Adapted from the 2012 novel by M.L. Stedman, “The Light Between Oceans” (Disney), beautifully shot in Australia and New Zealand, is an old-fashioned weeper about love and loss, with a powerful message about forgiveness and the role of conscience.

After fighting in World War I, Tom Sherbourne (Michael Fassbender) returns home to Australia a broken man. He eagerly takes a job as a lighthouse keeper on a remote island called Janus Rock, seeking solitude as a balm for his emotional wounds.

He lives just at the point where the Indian and Pacific Oceans meet, and his signal is thus a vital beacon for passing ships.

As he sets out from the mainland, Tom catches the eye of charming, spirited Isabel Graysmark (Alicia Vikander). They correspond, fall in love, and eventually marry. Making a home on their lonely island, the pair initially finds happiness together. But they remain childless. Two miscarriages drive Isabel to the brink of despair. But not for long.

One morning a dinghy washes ashore, carrying a dead man and an infant girl who's barely alive. In this, Isabel sees the answer to her prayers. She persuades her reluctant husband not to report the tragedy so that they can raise the child, christened Lucy (Florence Clery), as their own.

Years pass, but the weight on Tom’s conscience never lifts. A chance encounter on the mainland with Hannah Roennfeldt (Rachel Weisz), Lucy’s real mother, only makes matters worse. Hannah continues to mourn the loss of her husband and child.

From its perch on the aptly named Janus Rock, “The Light Between Oceans” looks both toward the past and into the present, keeping viewers guessing as to whether the truth will out and some version of justice prevail. In passing through this beautifully landscaped vale of tears, sensitive viewers will find that a jumbo box of tissues comes in very handy.

The film contains mature themes, scenes of marital sensuality and a few profane oaths. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

By Joseph McAleer, Catholic News Service


A-III – adults


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Calling all Ghosts

Few films released over the last several decades have embedded themselves as firmly in the public consciousness as the 1984 comedy “Ghostbusters.”

Both the lyrics and the tune of its impossible-to-forget theme song cling tenaciously in the collective memory. So too do any number of its one-liners and visual images (“He slimed me!”).

While the franchise offerings that followed generally failed to live up to the quality of the original, they did extend across several media, from the 1989 big-screen sequel (unimaginatively titled “Ghostbusters II”) to television, comic books and video games. And now – lo, these many years later – there arrives a reboot.

The plot of this 3-D “Ghostbusters” (Columbia) runs a similar course to that of its long-ago progenitor. But director and co-writer (with Katie Dippold) Paul Feig mixes things up by shifting the gender balance. In lieu of the Reagan-era male specter collectors -- played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Harold Ramis -- we get lady metaphysical musketeers.

The first of these we meet is Columbia University physics professor – and tenure aspirant – Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig). With her future on the line, the last thing Erin can afford is to have her colleagues discover that she once collaborated on a book about the paranormal with her now-estranged best friend, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy).

So when Abby, who continues to research the subject, puts their volume up for sale on the internet, Erin pays a visit to Abby’s lab to protest. There she’s introduced to Abby’s current sidekick, tech whiz Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon).

Spooky circumstances soon have Erin and Abby patching up their differences and teaming with Jillian to track the numerous ghosts that have suddenly started popping up around New York City. They’re eventually joined on their hunt by no-nonsense transit worker Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), whose subway station has fallen victim to one of the hauntings.

Rounding out the band of wraith wranglers is Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), the ditzy hunk of a secretary the women hire after renting office space for their new partnership. The dumb-blond/eye-candy gags aimed at Kevin typify the overall tone of the proceedings, a light note that’s eventually drowned out by an increasingly heavy emphasis on (admittedly spectacular) special effects.

The movie’s treatment of the supernatural is unlikely to lead even the impressionable astray. But the fact that the jokes, though generally harmless, sometimes drift into mild raunchiness makes this suitable for grownups only.

The film contains occult themes, some strong but stylized violence, a suicide, brief irreverence, occasional sexual and scatological humor, at least one use each of profanity and crude language, several crass terms and a series of obscene gestures. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

By John Mulderig, Catholic News Service

Monthly List of Recent Film Ratings (June 2015)

CNS classifications: A-I: general patronage; A-II: adults and adolescents; A-III: adults; L: limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling; O: morally offensive.
MPAA ratings: G: general audiences. All ages admitted; PG: parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children; PG-13: parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13; R: restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian; NC-17: no one 17 and under admitted.

The Age of Adaline, A-III (PG-13)
Aloha, A-II (PG-13)
Avengers: Age of Ultron, A-III (PG-13)
The Awakening, A-III (R)
Begin Again, A-III (R)
Chappie, L (R)
Child 44, A-III (R)
Cinderella, A-I (PG)
The D Train, O (R)
Danny Collins, A-III (R)
The Divergent Series: Insurgent, A-III (PG-13)
Do You Believe?, A-II (PG-13)
Dream House, L (PG-13)
The DUFF, A-III (PG-13)
Ex Machina, O (R)
Far from the Madding Crowd, A-II (PG-13)
Focus, L (R)
Furious 7, A-III (PG-13)
Get Hard, O (R)
The Gunman, L (R)
Home, A-I (PG)
Hot Pursuit, A-III (PG-13)
It Follows, O (R)
Jupiter Ascending, A-III (PG-13)
Kingsman: The Secret Service, A-III (R)
The Last Exorcism Part II, L (PG-13)
The Lazarus Effect, A-III (PG-13)
Little Boy, A-II (PG-13)
The Longest Ride, A-III (PG-13)
Mad Max: Fury Road, L (R)
Marie's Story, A-II (not rated)
McFarland, USA, A-II (PG)
Monkey Kingdom, A-I (G)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, A-I (PG)
Pitch Perfect 2, A-III (PG-13)
Poltergeist, A-III (PG-13)
Project Almanac, A-III (PG-13)
The Pyramid, A-III (R)
Run All Night, L (R)
San Andreas, A-III (PG-13)
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, A-III (PG)
Seventh Son, A-II (PG-13)
The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, A-I (PG)
Tomorrowland, A-II (PG)
The Trip to Italy, A-III (not rated)
True Story, A-III (R)
Unfinished Business, O (R)
Unfriended, O (R)
The Water Diviner, A-III (R)
Woman in Gold, A-II (PG-13)

Copyright (c) 2015 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops