Went to see The Impossible with my friend B yesterday and I think, like Les Mis, we should have taken a pack of tissues with us.
IN 2004, A DEVASTATING TSUNAMI HITS SOUTHEAST ASIA
THIS IS ONE FAMILY'S TRUE STORY OF SURVIVAL tagline
This film is based on the true story of a regular family caught up with tens of thousands of strangers in one of the worst natuaral disasters of our time - the tsunami in Thailand. It stars Naomi Watts (King Kong, The Ring) as Maria the wife of Henry, played by the brilliant Ewan McGregor (Star Wars, Trainspotting) and mother to three young sons, Lucas (Tom Holland, best known for the title role in Billy Elliot the musical in London), Thomas and Simon (newcomers Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast respectively, though Oaklee has been in TVs Casualty and Eastenders).
The director, Juan Antonio Bayona, does an excellent job in lulling you into the Christmas holiday scenario with the family, yet you are still on edge because you know what is coming, just not when. The action scenes where the water comes and devastates the idyll and Maria and Lucas get separated from Henry, Thomas and Simon are dealt with realistically and acted to a high level (Tom Holland is one to watch, though Naomi's abilities, for me, were never in doubt). There is only one scene where Maria is told to think of something nice whilst being anaesthetised and Lucas is having a nightmare because his mother is in surgery, where I think it was taken too over the top - the scene would have been better utilised in the tsunami section for me. But overall this film felt real, not overdramatised and I would be interested to see if all of the story happened exactly as portrayed (especially the hospital scenes, I won't tell you which one, because I don't want to spoil it). Ewan McGregor's performance was also a powerful one, though I suspect if accolodes are forthcoming, they may head Naomi's way. The scene where he makes a mobile phone call home is nailed so perfectly, that you almost feel that you are intruding on a father's personal grief.
The film pulls you in and takes you on their journey throughout - you hold your breath, you cry and at turns you stare in disbelief and horror at the power of nature and the in/capacity of humans to think of others. But what really stays with you is the poignancy of one family in the heart of a catastrophe.
Take your tissues. 10/10