Movie Title: The Impossible [M]
Director : Juan Antonio Bayona
Running Time : 114 minutes
Release Date : In Cinemas Now
The Impossible is based on the true story of a family who endured the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that devastated vast tracts of Southern Asia and killed over 230 000 people. As this is a movie review and not an account of the earthquake and ensuing tsunami, you can read more about the actual tsunami here if you are so inclined.
Henry (McGregor) and Maria (Watts, nominated for an Oscar for this role) are holidaying in Thailand with their 3 sons Lucas (Holland), Thomas (Joslin) and Simon (Pendergast). They arrive at the brand new resort and to their delight, find they have been upgraded from a third floor room to a beach front bungalow. The family settle in for Christmas and the days are spent as you would imagine days are spent in Thailand while on vacation……lazing around the pool reading, relaxing and promising the kids you will play table tennis with them later.
Then the tsunami arrives …. and it is devastating.
All we see of the approaching tsunami is palm trees being brought down by something large. Of course, we as viewers know what is coming but for those few moments, we are feeling what those poor souls must have been feeling, a mixture of bewilderment and fear of what was happening just past the tree line. It seems hard to imagine that just 8 years ago none of us would have been able to identify an approaching tsunami. The world is a different place now.
The actual tsunami scenes are harrowing and confronting. The special effects awe inspiring and gruesome. A combination of above and underwater shots, we see the water sweeping everyone and everything away. But it is the underwater shots that take your breath away. We watch in horror as bodies collide with cars, metal and very large sharp tree branches. And the noises. Blood chilling. The roar of the tsunami itself, the crunching of metal and trees, the underwater gurgling that reminds you these people are drowning. These scenes are not for the faint hearted and I will admit I had my eyes averted quite often and had to rely on my companion to provide necessary commentary.
Maria is swept away and emerges screaming…..a deep guttural cry that brought my first tears. It is possibly exactly what I would have done in her place. She knows what has happened and she has lost her children. She manages to find her eldest son, Lucas and watching a mother caring nothing for her own safety as she tries to reach her child are gut wrenching. These are also the scenes when the pair emerge from the water and we see their injuries for the first time. Again, not for the faint hearted. But during these moments, we see the relationship between mother and son deepen and shift as they confront their new reality.
In one scene, Lucas comments to his mother that he cannot bear to see her like this and turns away from her. She looks down and as the camera pans down her chest to reveal deep, nasty wounds and a bare breast. Maria covers herself the best she can but it is obvious that it is seeing his mother so badly wounded that is confronting for the youngster.
The pair are confronted by death and despair on an unimaginable scale. They find Daniel, an understandably terrified toddler and bring him with them to safety. It is locals who are their saviours and there are some truly touching moments here as the bridge between rich and poor, local and foreigner are forgotten.
Henry is with the couple’s 2 youngest children and has to make decisons no father should have to make. I am still not sure I agree with them and so will not discuss them here as I will let you decide for yourself.
Maria and Lucas are taken to the local hospital which is struggling to cope with the emergency. It would be difficult enough for any hospital to deal with such widespread devastation but to see understaffed and ill equipped hositals in a developing country try to cope….. astounding. Seeing seriously ill people pushed against stairwells is confronting but a sad reality of the situation.
Henry searches tirelessly for his family and Lucas busies himself at the hospital helping anyone he can. It is the very best of humanity amongst the very worst of scenarios. Maria’s life continues to hang by a thread.
This movie is a drama and provides some great moments. As I have previously described, the special effects are amazing. We also see what the news censors at the time did not let us see. Things like the rows upon rows of dead bodies…. some bagged, some lying bloated waiting to be dealt with.
I wanted this family to survive and find each other. I really was engrossed in the whole thing but there were some glaring inconsistencies that I just couldnt get past. Yes this was the story of one family but what we saw was the story of rich foreigners. Could there have not been more about the locals who also endured this disaster? What about the nurse who appeared to work 24/7…..did she have a family? Did she lose her children? What was her story?
As for the ending…….I was simply mortified. I won’t spoil it but I was truly disgusted. I am a grown up and I know how the world works but should that have been my family……..I can assure you things would have been a lot different.
Overall this is a good movie. Amazing special effects and a decent story. Great acting, especially from the youngsters but marred, in my opinion, by the ending. But go and see it and judge for yourself ….. and let me know if you agree.