Genre: Drama, History, Thriller
Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
It seems only yesterday that the horrific events of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami crashed into the unaware residents of the Thai coastal holiday resorts, and just over 8 years after that day, the story of one family’s struggle is recreated on film.
The Impossible, directed by Juan Antonio Bayona tells the true story of the Belon family as they struggle to survive in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor head the acting talent as parents Maria and Henry as they try to find each other, and their three children Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast).
The film starts with the family arriving in Thailand for their Christmas holiday, and rightly-so doesn’t deviate from the central plot. With a story this real, and so focussed on one family, there isn’t any need for sub-plots or unnecessary swerves from the main family. Indeed, this is one of the key successes of the film: that a film which affected so many people can explore one group’s individual story amongst the many thousands involved.
Where the film truly comes alive is the dynamic between Naomi Watts and Tom Holland as her eldest son. Like Kodi-Smit McPhee in The Road, Holland’s acting is nothing short of extraordinary and carries the weight of such a sensitive storyline stunningly. Moments where he attempts to reunite families and help a young boy are portrayed with such sincerity and delicacy that makes you realise just how horrific that day was.
The score is simple but achingly beautiful, and should see composer Fernando Velazquez gaining critical acclaim. Much more than this however, the soundtrack’s gorgeous melodies work perfectly in capturing the intimacy of the characters in their individual struggles.
With many leaving the cinema screen with tears, this film is emotionally heavy going but incredibly rewarding, the kind of profound exploration of humanity on a par with films such as The Road and The Shawshank Redemption. Critical awards are doubtlessly waiting, but it is the connection to the audience where this film will reap the most rewards.