On Boxing Day 2004 a massive earthquake created a tsunami causing devastation around the Indian Ocean resulting in the deaths of more than 300,000 people. The Impossible is based on the true story of a Spanish family (transformed here into a British one) who encounter arguably the worst natural disaster of recent times.
Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three young sons Lucas (Tom Holland), Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) and Thomas (Samuel Joslin) begin their Christmas holiday in Thailand, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise. But on Boxing Day morning (December 26th), as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the centre of the earth. As Maria freezes in fear, a huge wall of black water races across the hotel grounds toward her. We then follow each family member on their nightmare journey back to each-other.
The Impossible is an incredibly visceral and moving cinema experience. The special effects are disturbingly real, with a particularly masterful the use of water which is the villain of this piece. (There is a phenomenal sequence as the first wave travels through the hotel resort like a terrifying beast from a horror film!)
Due to the subject matter being so recent, it is extremely emotional, and at times almost too unbearable to watch. Because this is a film about a real and recent disaster all of your emotions are amplified when watching – to which end I have to wonder about it being in good taste to make films of such a fresh tragedy. I always felt like The World Trade Center and United 93 were, although good films, were perhaps a little too soon. Obviously, this particular family would not have chosen to make a film detailing their incredible story of survival if their story didn’t have a happy ending, but not many who encountered the Tsunami were that lucky…
The Impossible Poster (Ewan McGregor)
Maria (Naomi Watts) and son Lucas (Tom Holland) star in The Impossible
However, looking at The Impossible purely as a film in its own right, it could be said that it is overly sentimental at times, but thanks to the The Orphanage‘s Bayona, the film tows that line beautifully, and there are layers of gore and terror that are so frightening and incomprehensible, that any cheese that comes is well earned!
I felt thoroughly disturbed on leaving the cinema – and considering I hadn’t thought about that Tsunami disaster in some time, perhaps it is an important film, and telling this families story doesn’t take away from other victims. It has certainly reminded me of what is important in life – family.
In cinemas 1st January 2013