Derek Cianfrance to Go From ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ to ‘The Light Between Oceans’


With his 2010 film, Blue Valentine, director Derek Cianfrance proved that he wasn’t afraid to tell an unpleasant story that would make his audience uncomfortable. With his 2012 film, The Place Beyond the Pines, he proved that he wasn’t afraid to tell a complex story that explored issues from multiple perspectives. Probably that’s enough for us to start giving him praise for being a fearless filmmaker, which is a reputation that’s going to come in handy as he makes his next film, a complex character drama that features flawed protagonists and no easy answers.

What’s this new project he’s got coming up? According to a report from THR, DreamWorks has just hired him to make an adaptation of ML Stedman’s 2012 novel “The Light Between Oceans,” which is an Australian-set story that takes place just after World War I and which features a young couple who get faced with a series of very serious decisions.

To be more specific in regards to the plot, let’s turn to the book’s Amazon listing, which describes it by saying:

“After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is a “gift from God,” and against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.”

The young couple in conflict aspect of this story definitely sounds like it could be something that Cianfrance could draw on his experience making Blue Valentine to bring to life. And those later developments where we’re told that their choice devastates the life of someone else sounds pretty close to the things he was exploring in The Place Beyond the Pines. It’s not too hard to see why DreamWorks thought that he would be a good fit for this material.

One has to wonder who Cianfrance has in mind to play his young couple though. There are certainly no shortage of hot young leading men coming out of Australia these days who could play the Tom character. But so far the director has seen all of his success come from hitching his wagon to Ryan Gosling’s star. Is it possible that he could keep his collaborative relationship with his usual leading man going, which would naturally lead to us getting to watch Gosling ham it up while doing an Australian accent? If you thought turning him loose with a banjo in Blue Valentine was too much to bear, that could be downright infuriating. You’re right, probably he should just go with Joel Edgerton or one of those Hemsworth brothers. Keep it authentic.

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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