By Joe McGovern
Updated August 25, 2016 at 02:02 AM EDT

The Light Between Oceans

  • Movie

Based on M.L. Stedman’s 2012 tearjerker novel, The Light Between Oceans (in theaters Sept. 2) tells a sad story about a childless couple who keep a castaway baby as their own — with devastating ramifications. But the film, directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines), is also a surprisingly uplifting experience, thanks to any number of loose and light-footed scenes, like the EW exclusive above, in which Michael Fassbender’s character receives a super sweet birthday gift from the little girl he’s raised as his daughter.

Fassbender and his costar Alicia Vikander, who plays his on-screen wife, spoke to EW about the film’s more bright and buoyant qualities.

“That’s definitely what everyone was aiming for, including Stedman, if I may speak for her,” Fassbender says. “There is a reason that we feel the way we do by the end of the book and the end of the movie.”

Adds Vikander, “And it’s also something with Derek’s films. I felt with Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines that I got so close to these characters, I felt I could walk down the street and see them or refer to myself or people I know. And when both films end, I totally think that these lives continue on. The uplifting thing is that there is such a big emotional draw but you don’t need to give a big punch.”

Check out the trailer for The Light Between Oceans, which also stars Rachel Weisz, below.

Episode Recaps

The Light Between Oceans

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 130 minutes