Friday, January 4

REVIEW: The Impossible

Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona
2012 Action Drama
1 hour 54 minutes
From Summit Entertainment

Naomi Watts
Ewan McGregor
Tom Holland
Samuel Joslin
Oaklee Pendergast

Here is the story of the 2004 tsunami with an epicenter off the west coast of Sumatra in the Indian Ocean.  Worldwide 230,000 people were killed and it is still considered the worst human disaster in history.  We follow one family, a couple with three young sons, and their harrowing escape from death and desperate efforts to find one another when they are separated.

The disaster hits at the beginning of the film and the special effects to pull this off with believability are simply astonishing.  It was eye-popping watching the great torrents of water hitting the hotel where the family was staying, watching palm trees topple, cars being tossed about, people being thrown across great expanses.  Then, of course, came the point when the tide went out and with it went great quantities of debris, dangerously and fatally taking more people along.

At first we follow the mother (Naomi Watts) and her eldest son as they are swept out with the debris.  Each is perilously close to calling it a day but somehow miraculously clinging to a tree or other large items and ultimately avoiding death although suffering physical mishap.  The mother is seriously injured and is lucky to have her plucky son along.  At one point she humorously tells him he's bossy and we all understand that it's a good thing he is.

In the meantime, the father (Ewan McGregor) and his two youngest sons have also survived, with fewer or no real injuries.  We are not altogether sure how that happened as the focus of the story is on the mother and eldest son.  Ultimately the father decides to put his two sons in the care of a group of people going to higher ground (I personally question this stratagem but since this is based on a true story, I will allow that it happened).  Ultimately he loses contact with them so there are three factions looking for one another.

At the point of them coming together, it's hard to imagine a dry eye in the house and again when McGregor breaks down calling relatives back home.

It must have been some task framing this family story in the face of such a horrific disaster.  So many disaster movies get incredibly caught up in the disaster (not intended to be a complaint here exactly) that characterizations are mere cardboard cutouts.  That is not the case here.  This is, in fact, a story of a family's indomitable strength, courage and tenacity and it is wonderfully well done.

While all the actors are damned good, I would be remiss to not single out Tom Holland, the eldest son, who holds the entire piece together on his young shoulders.  His love and caring for his mother was so touching and his ability to navigate through an adult world in the face of such chaos showed a steely determination not often seen in one so young.

The Impossible is made by Spanish filmmakers and filmed mainly in Thailand.  Kudos to all those not on camera in pulling off the right look, depressing and devastating as it is.

I said once before in an earlier post, and I repeat here, that I do not like the title at all.  In certain ways, it actually should be called The Possible but regardless, something more meaningful should have been chosen, something to light up those marquees.

Review of Promised Land

1 comment:

  1. I wasn't sure what to make of this when I saw previews, so I'm glad to hear it was worth the watch. I gather this is one Kyle and I will miss. Being new parents to a beautiful young son has certainly changed our movie-going experience!