Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Cast: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, Sonke Mohring
Plot: A detailed account of one family's harrowing experience during the tsunami catastrophe in Thailand on December 26th 2004.
Review: Let me start by saying this: The Impossible is an astounding film. It's simply amazing in its execution as it tells the story of a family caught right in the middle of the tsunami disaster back in 2004, which killed hundreds of thousands of people.
Director Juan Antonio Bayona and writer Sergio G. Sanchez base their film on the experiences of the Belon family, particularly from Maria Belon, whose character is portrayed by Naomi Watts in the film. Thanks to her detailed account of the incident, as well as the filmmakers excellent handling of the material, the audience are given a solid story of survival which feels very real, not just because they used minimal visual effects in the film, but also because this is an actual catastrophe.
In the hands of people like Michael Bay or Roland Emmerich, The Impossible would be filled to the brim with over the top CGI and cheesy dramatic moments. But in Bayona's direction, we get a rightfully emotional, sometimes painful and sometimes shocking look of how the tsunami affected locals and tourists alike.
Watts and Ewan McGregor play a couple who, along with their three sons, arrive in Phuket for their Christmas vacation. All seems fabulous until the wave hits them without warning and everything changes. The family is separated with Watts and the eldest son swept away together while McGregor is with the younger two. Watts' character Maria is badly wounded as her son tries to get help for her amongst the chaos, with McGregor doing his best to find them both.
Watts deserves the Oscar nomination as Maria, who doesn't have much to say overall, but says so much with facial expressions and the limited sentences she has throughout. Tom Holland is also excellent as Lucas, the eldest son who finds the will and courage in himself to help his mum and other people at the hospital looking for their families. Ewan McGregor is pretty good too in the role of Henry, and I'm glad he was, since he doesn't normally get dramatic roles like this, and he was amazing.
Kudos also goes out to the cinematographer and production designer who did an astonishing job in presenting and recreating the aftermath of the disaster. An aerial view of lands turned upside down or wrapped bodies being lined up by the authorities will send chills down your spine. Then there are the overcrowded hospitals and the chaotic frenzy generated by the victims which were so well portrayed. Not forgetting as well, the initial wave that Watts and Holland endured was really scary as I watched it. It makes one wonder how anyone could survive such a horrifying experience, and it's to Bayona's credit that it turned out just right.
All I can say is, The Impossible is a great film. It's a disaster film that doesn't romanticise or sensationalise a tragedy, but instead puts you right in the thick of it. Recommended. (4/5)