This is an intensely real, grim, realistic portrayal of the devastation wreaked by the 2004 Boxing day tsunami as seen through the eyes of a young family on holiday in Thailand. The tsunami killed 230,000 people across 14 different Asian countries, devastating the lives of many, and whose consequences are still being felt today.
The film starts off with family Marie (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three young boys enjoying Christmas on an idyllic summer beach holiday. As they are relaxing by the pool at their hotel, they are hit without warning by a huge wall of water which envelopes everything. The sheer force of the tsunami and the utter devastation left in its wake is well captured in the film.
The young, close knit family celebrate Christmas eve. Image courtesy Summit Entertainment
The first half of the movie focuses on what happened to Marie and her eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland), how they are found by locals and taken to hospital (after being separated from the other family members). The scenes of chaos at the local hospital are palpable.
The movie adds further suspense and drama, as we don't know the fate of Henry or the two younger boys until midway through the movie. The husband never gives up hope searching for the remainder of his family, even though others at the resort tell him the situation is "hopeless". As if witnessing death, destruction and carnage wasn't enough, many survivors had to endure the additional trauma of not knowing where their loved ones were, or if indeed, they were alive at all.
Naomi Watts puts in a brave and vulnerable performance as Marie. Image courtesy Summit Entertainment
This film brings home the shocking reality and immenseness of the disaster and a lot of people's worst holiday nightmare: being seriously injured or lost in a foreign country where you can't speak the language and where medical facilities are rudimentary at best.
This is a relatively simple story without too much dialogue (not much is really needed); the use of silence and an appropriate music score help to reinforce the depth of feeling and emotion. A movie experience that makes you realise just how fragile life really is. An ode to the human spirit.
3 out of 5 stars.
Spoiler alert: If you want to enjoy the movie more, avoid watching the trailer below.