Release Date: 17 January 2013
Running Time: 114 minutes
Distributor: GSC Movies (from Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate)
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Screenplay: Sergio G. Sánchez
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Geraldine Chaplin, Tom Holland
Plot: Maria, Henry and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise. But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the center of the earth. As Maria freezes in fear, a huge wall of black water races across the hotel grounds toward her.
“The Impossible” opens with the Bennett family travelling to Thailand for their Christmas vacation. The Bennetts consists of Henry (Ewan McGregor), a white-collar employee; his wife, Maria (Naomi Watts), an ex-physician and their three sons – Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas and Simon. What seems like a fantastic time for a few days family retreat is cut short on the morning of the Boxing Day, when a destructive tsunami crashed and destroyed the coastal area. Separated by the unimaginable destruction, the Bennetts become wary and desperate for their own survival and for an attempt to reunite.
J.A. Bayona and Sergio G. Sánchez successfully pull a tremendous job in crafting “The Impossible” as it highlights the extraordinary tale with a mix of grandiose physical shots with an emotional acting performance as the anchor. While it is not a great movie that truly stands out in this crowded line-up of award buzzes, “The Impossible” is still a great movie as it overcomes the genre cliché of typical ridiculous dumb popcorn flick. Even without the usual requirement of over the top action-packed and CGIs, the movie is still amazing. Stripped off the need for those, “The Impossible” is a pure tear-jerker and the most emotional piece of drama I have seen over the year.
There is some letdown however in the form of script the script. The series of events displayed are very much grounded by their own boundary for merely a smooth scene-to-scene and detail-by-detail description. The reunion scene seems a little unrealistic, purposely staged and made too convenient. Despite some of the shortages, the human connection is the strongest visual portrayal in this movie. The performances of the parents, upheld by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor are strong, engaging and emotionally outspoken. Naomi’s performance, in particular, marks one of her finest in years. The Bennetts’ eldest son, Lucas as played by the newcomer Tom Holland, is equally astonishing. Naomi’s nomination is well-deserved and is certainly has nothing to do with her sobbing. It is a pure enigmatic mixture of representation and characterization.
Bayona lets in a different view. Unlike the similar scene in another Indian Ocean tsunami-related film - Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter”, the first-person concept does add into the howling experience of seeing the characters wading through the rapidly surging water. Without the use of fancy effects, the tsunami scene occurring in the first act is absolutely amazing, realistic and terrifying. And while most survival movie focuses our attentions into the doubts or morality or the intensity of the personal problems, “The Impossible” virtually strips them down to get the story going. All you got in the end is a solid and emotional 115 minutes of people clinging into hopes for survival.
In the end, “The Impossible” is a powerful and emotional film that benefits by strong acting performance by Naomi Watts and Tom Holland, well-executed tsunami scene and moving story about classy survival, despite the grounded plot.