Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Impossible

By Sati. Wednesday, February 27, 2013 , , , , , , ,
On Sunday, 26 December 2004 for many the end of the world really happened. It was the day of Indian Ocean earthquake - the resulting tsunami is given various names, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, South Asian tsunami, Indonesian tsunami, and the Boxing Day tsunami.The earthquake was caused by subduction and triggered a series of devastating tsunamis along the coasts of most landmasses bordering the Indian Ocean, killing over 230,000 people in fourteen countries, and inundating coastal communities with waves up to 30 meters (98 ft) high. It was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

The Impossible shows the effects of Tsunami in Thailand, as we follow British family who spends vacation there. Maria Bennett (Naomi Watts), her husband Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons Lucas (Tom Holland), Tomas and Simon are all enjoying their time on the pool, when the tsunami hits, separating Maria and Lucas from the rest of the family and bringing with it unimaginable destruction.
The Impossible is in many ways last year's Contagion - it is ultimately a horror movie, because it shows something that is very real, very deadly and completely unpredictable. The whole movie is very frightening - seeing the devastation of the waves and the brute force of nature that just sweeps everything on its way is horrifying. The film doesn't shy away from showing the audience many injuries people sustained in tsunami and because of Maria's situation and Watts's incredible performance you can feel the pain and exhaustion of her character.

While the film exhausted me emotionally it is certainly worth seeing - the tsunami effects were extremely realistic. I think the fact the film didn't get any major nominations for the fantastic visual effects and sound editing is a travesty. The film really makes you feel as if you were in the centre of disaster - I have no idea how they managed to shoot most of the scenes, especially the one where Maria wakes up after the waves hit and finds herself completely surrounded by the water and debris.
The film is expertly shot and scored - the music is beautiful and the cinematography is just breathtaking - not only are the tsunami moments shot in a frightening yet fascinating way - the quiet and subtle scenes are beautifully framed and the whole movie is wonderfully edited - especially its moving ending is the example of the technical greatness - it's simple but everything comes together in the end. Yet those technical things never overshadow the spirit of the characters and the story itself - the story of survival.

The most amazing thing in the movie is how beautiful it is. It's very emotional and heartbreaking - I lost it a lot of times when we were shown frightened kids who didn't know what happened and couldn't find their parents. The emotions of everyone involved are extremely strong and easy to read - the film shows such plight and longing, when really all of the useless ordinary crap stops mattering and we are left with one simple hope - to see our loved ones again. The film follows the central family closely, but we also see others affected by the disaster. For me the most exceptionally beautiful parts of the movie were those when we witnessed selfless kindness of strangers.
It is in those scenes that Watts and McGregor were at their best - the film's most touching moment for me was when the natives took care of Maria without saying a single word, they gave her water and treated her wounds and she simply whispered 'Thank you...thank you so much". The scene where Henry calls home and lets his relatives know what happened is not only the most superbly acted out scene of 2012 - it is also the best work McGregor has ever done. That scene is so honest and truthful - Henry keeps it together but when a member of his family picks up the phone and he hears familiar voice, he loses it completely and collapses with despair. It is impossible not to shed tears during these two brilliant moments.

It is a shame that Naomi Watts is the single person nominated for Oscar for this movie. McGregor delivered moving and convincing work and young Tom Holland who plays Lucas was just incredible. He showed such maturity and understanding in creating his character and his emotions felt so raw and real. The two little boys who played his brother were also very good. But it is Watts who is the best in the ensemble delivering incredible physical performance.
Watts does have many moments where she gets to play concerned mother and loving wife but it's the pain her character goes through that is the most challenging. Watts completely captures Maria's agony in an incredible way - she screams, cries and continues to go on, while bleeding and feeling fear both for her and her loved ones. Even later on in the movie, where Maria has oxygen mask on Watts manages to create something extremely memorable.

Her character was the most inspiring in this whole story - not once did she say she can't go on until one crucial scene. She didn't think about giving up, she just kept going to keep her son safe, while also showing concern for the people they met along their way. She held it together until she knew her entire family was safe and only then she was prepared to let go.
There are several emotionally manipulative scenes - especially the one leading to the reunion between kids and between them and his father and then entire family. The scene drags out and relies on suspense - the five of them keep being so close and yet they don't notice each other. It goes long enough so you would start worrying they won't meet, but they obviously do. I don't think the film needed this trick for the scene to be incredibly moving, but I won't deny it still proved to be very effective.

This is one of those movies that stays with you - maybe not for long but it gives you this rush for about an hour after seeing it. Kinda like Paris Je T'aime made me want to run to my love, The Impossible made me want to hug everyone I love for as long as I could. And that's a remarkable thing only the rarest movies can do - infect you with such strong emotions and the desires of the characters.
The Impossible
(2012, 124 min)
Plot: A regular family - Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three kids - travel to Thailand to spend Christmas. They get an upgrade to a villa on the coastline. After settling in and exchanging gifts, they go to the pool, like so many other tourists. A perfect paradise vacation until a distant noise becomes a roar. There is no time to escape from the tsunami; Maria and her eldest are swept one way, Henry and the youngest another. Who will survive, and what will become of them?
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Writers: Sergio G. Sánchez (screenplay), María Belón (story)
Stars: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland

RELATED POSTS:

35 comments:

  1. Thats a good take on this Sati. This definitely IS a movie that makes you want to cherish the people you love. Because WOW, it really does put you through the ringer. So realistic... Very gut wrenching drama.

    I'm with you, too. I'd have nominated McGregor above Denzel Washington, personally. I thought McGregor was awesome here. :o

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! :) Yeah, it's one intense movie, I cried so much during it.

      Denzel is actually my win so I wouldn't replace him but for me Ewan was more supporting, he would surly be more worthy of the nomination than Alan Arkin.

      Delete
  2. Lol, we have almost the exact same opinion on this on. Loved Watts but wished McGregor and Holland could've gotten some love, loved the cinematography and was a little annoyed by the manipulative scenes you mention.

    Great review :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! :) Glad you liked the movie.

      Delete
  3. I'm with you on the fact that this film got overlooked in the sound editing/mixing categories. It was very powerful in the way it sounded. Especially the way the water forced Naomi Watts through that glass. I'm also with you on the fact that Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland were unjustly overlooked. It was devastating to watch. I don't care how manipulative it is. Since it was based on a real family, I couldn't help but tear up over the fact that they all survived.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was refreshing to see happy ending in the story like that, usually something terrible happens but the movie was so intense I don't think I'd handle anything more.

      Delete
  4. I don't know if I could watch this film to be honest... as you know I'm from Indonesia so this hits me to close to me. I told people I'd have a bunch of Kleenex at the ready when I watch this film but I don't know if that'll be enough. You said this is like a horror film and seeing the rows of corpse in that picture above I definitely think it's very fitting. "The Impossible made me want to hug everyone I love for as long as I could..." Great line, this sounds like a film that would get us in touch with our humanity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really frightening but in the end there is a lot of hope in the movie, but it is emotionally powerful - I think I only cried more on Frankenweenie last year, but that's because of the dog thing. This one was really intense, mostly because it all happened for real. I think it's worth seeing, the ending is happy but the journey is devastating at times.

      Delete
    2. Oh I have no doubt it's worth seeing, I'm just afraid I'd be a basket case watching it. I still might brace myself to rent it though.

      Delete
    3. I have a feeling like that about Amour, it's the only BP nominee I haven't seen. It just looks so gut wrenching.

      Delete
  5. Gorgeous review! It sounds like almost everything about this film was first rate. It's a shame it stooped to being emotionally manipulative at times -- they should have trusted the power of their storytelling and the strength of the acting.

    Looking forward to this coming out on DVD. I'll try to avoid watching it at the wrong time of the month, or I'll be bawling like a baby. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I think they wanted to make the scene thrilling but the way it was directed made it a bit too long and in the effect it became a bit manipulative. Instead of the build up they threw in multiple obstacles for the characters, so that they wouldn't see each other, that were quite cliched and more annoying than thrilling.

      Haha, that's a good idea :P

      Delete
  6. Great review Sati! It's certainly a gut puncher of a movie. Slightly manipulative as you say but it works for the most part. I thought the second half of the film lost its way a bit and was a little strangely paced. Watts' dream sequence, for instance, seemed like a way of just throwing a bit more action in for the sake of it.
    I totally agree about the injustice of not getting an Oscar nomination for its sound though, that was probably the most effective part for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I agree about dream sequence - it was quite beautiful but felt unnecessary. The sound really made the whole thing very realistic and powerful, I can't imagine the reasoning behind not nominating it.

      Delete
  7. It really is great, I too was surprised that McGregor didn't get a nomination.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't actually nominate him, since it was such a strong year in supporting category, but he was fantastic here.

      Delete
  8. Great review Sati. I really enjoyed this one. It wa shocking that it was ignored for any visual effects awards and McGregor can count himself very unlucky not to get a nod. I wouldn't replace Washington for him either. Denzel was superb but as I don't like Hugh Jackman, I would squeeze McGregor in his spot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! McGregor was really great here, hopefully he will get more good roles like this one in the future.

      Delete
  9. I completely agree about it being a travesty that it did not get more Oscar nods. I was a mess most of the way through. I highly suspect this will be in my top 10 of the year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It almost snack in into my top 10 :) I really liked the film and I think it was better than most of BP nominees this year.

      Delete
  10. The only real reason I cared for this movie was the direction and performances. Other than those factors, this feels a bit too much like a TV-movie-of-the-week, with a bunch of blood and nudity. Not a lot of nudity, but just some. Nonetheless, it's still a good movie, I just wish there was more to it. Nice review Sati.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I don't think (half) topless Naomi Watts after her shirt was torn by the waves qualifies as "nudity" but OK.

      Delete
  11. Great review! Despite some of those manipulative scenes, I loved this movie. The performances and the technical achievements were almost completely overlooked during the awards season. Glad you liked the score too, which I'd easily nominate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I really enjoyed the score, it wasn't overly dramatic and it added a lot of beauty to the movie, especially the family scenes.

      Delete
  12. Great review. You've convinced me to push this further up my priority list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I hope you'll like the film!

      Delete
  13. I was surprised Watts didn't garner more attention for her performance, she was plugged by a lot Academy voters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She was? I didn't know that. Lawrence had Weinstein in her corner, though, so I doubt Naomi stood any chance :(

      Delete
  14. Initially, this film was all about Watts' performance for me. But McGregor definitely went all in as well. And that oldest son had the perfect amount of angst to him. Agree all the way with your review - it's a movie that makes you value those you love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you liked it! McGregor definitely proved his talent in this, which is great because I haven't seen great performance from him in a long time as lovely as this guy is.

      Delete
  15. Great review. I kind of avoid this film because it looks - as you said - emotionally exhausting. What tsunami did in that time, including in part of my country, was severe and I saw the trailer a couple of times, conclude to myself I won't be seeing it soon. Perhaps in a couple of months more? Thanks for sharing, Sati.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It's worth seeing but yeah, it's not an easy movie.

      Delete
  16. Fantastic review and you hit just about every point that I did. We're definately on the same page. This is a powerful picture that leaves you emotionally drained. But it also incredibly moving and an ultimately rewarding experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I think it's the most moving film out of those released last year, it was so emotional and beautifully executed.

      Delete
  17. While I think overall it does a disservice to countless victims and the families of victims, this is a finely crafted piece of filmmaking.

    ReplyDelete