Indeed there have been more-than-enough natural disaster flicks to have graced our screens in the past few years than perhaps necessary. “The Impossible” being one of them, stands a cut above the rest. A ‘based on true events’ film about the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, it seems bringing these painfully real events to life in the most honest way possible was the director Juan Antonio Bayona’s most challenging task. However, he does just that in directing this beautiful story of hope and loss; of strength and perseverance.
We follow the tragic but also incredible journey of the Belon family as they vacation on the coast of Thailand for Christmas. As the massive unexpected wave hits their ocean-side resort on Boxing Day, the family of five get violently thrown around in the turbulent waters. This particular scene is one of the best of the film. It captured a horrific moment and made it seem incredibly realistic. Once afloat, the first part of the film focuses on Maria Belon (Naomi Watts), the wife and mother of three. She is quickly reunited with her eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland), and while trying to remain fearless for him, the realization of the catastrophe at hand begins to set in. With her husband and two younger sons nowhere to be found, her and Lucas head to higher ground. Suffering from incredible injuries, Maria is taken to hospital by locals where it seems her life is slipping, and fast. Under the impression that his two brothers and father had perished, Lucas remains by his mother’s side, knowing that she is all he has left.
The latter half of the film focuses more on Henry Belon’s (Ewan McGregor) struggle. Henry had found his two youngest sons and was now in search of his wife and eldest boy. It seemed like a task comparable to finding a needle in a haystack; bodies in the streets, overcrowded hospitals and resorts reduced to rubble. Regardless of how impossible it seemed, Henry persisted knowing he could not give up.
The acting in this film was what really set it apart from other films of the same genre. For sixteen year old Tom Holland, “The Impossible” was his feature film debut, and by far the best performance. He was magnetic to watch. It’s easy to feel everything that boy felt; fear, pain, joy. You become drawn to his character as he portrays such strength for his family and for those around him. Naomi Watts received an Academy Award nomination for her performance and there’s no doubt why. For such a personal and physically demanding role, Naomi executed it with such grace and strength.
Perhaps the most beautiful part of the film was the raw portrayal of human nature—hopelessness, greediness, kindness. “The Impossible” gives us wonderful insight into the events that occurred that fateful day. The grippingly true storyline, talented actors and insanely good imagery makes it a definite must-see movie.