Plot – The story of a tourist family in Thailand caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – The Impossible.
Director – J.A Bayona
Released – 2012
Filled with an unimaginable level of human tragedy, horror, fight for survival and unity usually reserved for only war movies. The Impossible is the most gripping, heartbreaking, intense piece of filmmaking I’ve witnessed in quite some time, And that it’s based on the harrowing true story of one of the world’s worst natural disasters of our time makes this movie even more powerful.
Telling its story in an unashamedly melodramatic manner. Technically impeccable, The Impossible is as brutal and unforgiving as the disaster itself, never romanticising it or demonising the events that took place, but rather, giving you a glimpse at just some of what went on after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
Easing you in with a steady opening as a young family arrives at their beachfront hotel, this relaxing atmosphere is shaken violently as a wall of water crashes on land and chaos ensues.
From his other work, you know that Director J. A Bayona has an eye for what looks good on-screen, however, here it’s not looking good but highlighting the sheer power and destruction that hit and how the water receding was only the start of the survivor’s problems. His steady hand and a wonderful visual eye choose to focus on a single-family caught up in the disaster yet highlights this is one of thousands of deeply upsetting stories taking place at that time.
Bayona’s choice to avoid filling the movie with a dramatic underscore that swells as our protagonists repeatedly struck and thrown around in the muddy ocean waters, turned out to be one of the more powerful aspects of the movie, with the lack of musical accompaniment allowed the loudness of the water and utter silence that followed, to fill our senses and made the movie feel closer to a documentary than a cinematic production and without theses musical cues, you’ll find yourself unable to relax, just as the characters on-screen weren’t able to do.
Naomi Watts gives a career-best performance filled with powerful emotions of a mother both physically and emotionally destroyed by the disaster, Her will to keep fighting in the face of unimaginable damage and destruction is inspiring and the hope that she gives the audience with unwavering survival instincts is a moving sight.
Ewan McGregor is equally heartening as the distressed father, looking after two sons and searching the chaos for his wife and eldest son, played excellently by a young Tom Holland. He delivers one of the strongest juvenile debuts I’ve seen since Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun.
The Impossible separates itself from the other disaster films by doubling down on the realism but additionally focusing not just on the scale of the mayhem, but the following struggle. This movie will hit you just as hard as the water hits the coastline and leaves you feeling both sad and hopeful.
If you liked – 127 Hours, The Perfect Storm, Everest