It’s been about eight years since a massive tsunami devastated muchof the Asian continent. The tsunami hit the day after Christmas in 2004 andkilled more than 100,000 people. It also affected millions of otherfamilies who were in the area or who knew those directly affected by thedisaster.
“The Impossible” chronicles one American family that was on vacationin Thailandwhen the devastating event occurred.
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as Henry and Marla, a young coupleraising three mischievous but endearing brothers. The family is enjoyingtheir trip when during a visit to the pool, the ocean — so beautiful at adistance–erupts and a massive wave overwhelms the coastal area. Homes areshattered. Families destroyed. Lives changed.It is in that sequence and the ensuing ones that director Juan AntonioBayona propels the audience into the story.
The chaos of the tsunami isfrantically shot as survivors attempt to peek out of the water to stay alive.Maria emerges from the water seconds at a time looking at the surrounding areaand trying to locate her lost children and her missing husband.
In a few heart-breaking sequences, Maria spots her oldest child Lucas (TomHolland) and attempts to reach him. The water is too fierce though as the twodrift, swim and fight to make it through the flood. Of course, their bodies arebeing propelled by pounds of water as both are pushed and proddedby normal everyday items that are as armful as weapons in the open water.
Although none of the members of the family are well-established as the filmbegins, the scenes of this duo trying to find each other are emotionallygripping. The director creates an intense and personal scene where viewers arelikely to connect with the situation onscreen more than the particularcharacters. Those moments alone are enough to merit a recommendation.
As the water settles and the two survive that first ordeal, they are rescuedby locals who bring them to a makeshift shelter. Meanwhile, Henry searchesunflinchingly for the missing members of his family. It would be wrong for meto spoil who survives the storm. What I can note is that the love andaffection the members of this family share with one another never disappearsfrom the screen from one heart-breaking scene to the next.
Admittedly, the second half of the story falters a bit, and it’s obvious thatthe filmmakers are simply looking for ways to keep members of this family awayfrom one another for dramatic effect. There is one long sequence where severalindividuals stand feet away from each other without knowing it. Such clichédsequences serve to undercut the real power and urgency underlying theproceedings.
“The Impossible” features two solid performances by Watts and McGregor butthe greatest acting chops are shown by the young Holland. This boy is put through an intenseordeal as he attempts to save his injured mother and tries to locate hissiblings and father. But through it all, Hollandshows a sensitivity and a depth of feeling that gives the film a more potentpower than it might have had otherwise.
The complete story, though flawed in its execution and with a few endingmoments that seem blatantly out of place, is brought to vivid and powerful lifein “The Impossible.” Just make sure to bring tissues to the theater when yousee it.