After experiencing the harrowing THE IMPOSSIBLE, I am convinced that the film’s title should have been THE IMPOSSIBLE NOT TO CRY MOVIE. Dear lord does this film run rampant with the heartstrings.
I actually put off watching it for a while as I was warned that I better be in the right mood for it before I press play. What that mood is I’m not quite sure, because I can’t remember a time that I was particularly in the mood to watch some nice people suffer like that as well as an entire city decimated by a natural disaster.
THE IMPOSSIBLE is based on a true story about a family of five vacationing at an idyllic Thailand resort when the mother of all tsunamis hits on the morning after Christmas. Relaxing by the pool one minute, the next, they are swept away by the flood with Maria (Naomi Watts) and her eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) taken down river and her husband Henry (Ewan McGreggor) and the other two sons Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) and Thomas (Samuel Joslin) left back in the wreckage of the resort.
After the storm has ended, leaving an epic swatch of destruction, the next hour and a half is spent watching the family attempt to reunite with one another. With life threatening injuries, the events that follow are remarkable if not downright impossible (but true) at times.
I can’t say the movie was pleasant to watch, but it is worth seeing for two specific reasons. First off the FX employed to create the tsunami are incredible. I am pretty savvy when it comes to FX (having worked in the field for over 14 years), but I honestly have no clue how director Juan Antonio Bayona pulled off some of these sequences. They sure didn’t look like digital FX and the scale of them would seem to make a practical approach too cost prohibited. I was left with my jaw hanging.
The second reason is the performances. Everybody is fantastic, but I would be remised not to mention how incredible Naomi Watts is as the beleaguered matriarch. This is quite possibly one of the finest performances of her career and certainly the most physically challenging. The movie is worth watching just for her.
My only complaint is that the third act gets a little contrived. I don’t know the real life story so this could all be real, but as a story device it brings the film down to Lifetime channel level. Also if you take a step back and consider that these characters are filthy rich and get some privileges that the Thailand residents don’t, the movie could be reduced to “white people problems.”
With that said, I was profoundly affected by THE IMPOSSIBLE, even for its faults. It’s worth your time, but just be warned, it’s going to wreak havoc on your emotions.
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