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.
(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
Juan Antonio Bayona
Sergio G. Sánchez (screenplay), María Belón (story)
Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland