Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published January 26th 2013
The immediate impact of the 2004 tsunami in Thailand comes crashing onto the big screen with frightening realism in The Impossible.
Although in English, in every other respect this is a Spanish film, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and featuring all the key crew who worked on his previous horror feature The Orphanage. While he has changed genres with The Impossible, it's still pretty horrific in many ways, with some particularly distressing scenes set during the initial tsunami blast, as well as in its aftermath.
The story is based on the experiences of one family. In real life they're Spanish, but Bayona said he didn't want to specify the nationality of the family in order to make the film more universal. It's pretty obvious though that anglicising the main characters was a move to make this more profitable for the lucrative English speaking market. Not that it detracts from the film's power at all, but it's a pity this Spanish production about a Spanish family isn't in it's native language.
Despite the often gruelling moments in The Impossible, it is essentially a film about hope and an inspiring story of courage and love under adversity. It's also a portrayal of the goodness in people under extreme circumstances. with several scenes involving strangers going out of their way to help others being some of the most moving in the film.
For many, the two talking points of the film will be the impressive tsunami re-enactments, featuring real massive surges of water mixed in with CGI, and the performances of Naomi Watts, Ewan Mcgregor and newcomer Tom Holland, who help lift this above the level of mere disaster epic. Watts seems to have an endless desire to put herself through the wringer physically and psychologically on screen. This is up with the best of her great work, while McGregor shows an emotional rawness we've never seen from him before.
The musical cues in the big moments were a bit too sentimental for my liking, but otherwise this is a very powerful film. It's an ordeal at times, but ultimately a life affirming experience.
Absolutely brilliant from the casting, acting & directing. Definately Oscar nomation worthy. This is Noami Watts best film & the young actor who plays Lucas is going to do big things. Not a dry eye in the cinema including the blokes! Also gives you an idea of what it must have been like for all those poor people who went through this disaster! A must see film!