Movie Review: The Impossible (2012)


Written by Anthony Sargon

“The Impossible” can be a difficult film to watch. The disaster that’s depicted on-screen killed over 230,000 people across 14 countries, and you can’t help but ask yourself if it’s fair to watch a movie about a family who survives while so many others were left irreparably broken. It’s that fact, however, that highlights how rare true stories of this caliber are, and how important hope can be in one’s darkest hour.

The film tells the story of a British Family (Spanish in real life) who travel to Indonesia to spend their Christmas holiday, when disaster suddenly strikes in the form of a massive tsunami (the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami). The family is split up, and we’re taken on their difficult journey of survival and ultimately, reunion.

The film’s standout scene is the tsunami itself, which is handled flawlessly. You feel like you’re witnessing the event first-hand, and that can be really frightening. The film can also be quite violent, as it doesn’t shy away from showing you close-ups of some really gruesome injuries. Director Juan Antonio Bayona does an incredible job of keeping things realistic and raw. He doesn’t sugar coat anything, and that’s the way it should be.

Naomi Watts (King Kong) is brilliant as Maria, the courageous mother who’s there for her child even as she suffers from serious injuries. Ewan McGregor (Big Fish) is fantastic as Henry, the dad, and there’s one scene in particular that almost had me in tears. Tom Holland (Billy Elliot The Musical) is extremely impressive as the oldest of the three boys, Lucas. His character is the only one with an actual arc in the story, and he handles the role with aplomb. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the future. Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast are also great as Thomas and Simon respectively.

People might find the film to be too melodramatic, but how can it not be? It’s the story about a family that goes through hell to find each other, so if things get emotional on more than one occasion, it’s completely warranted.

Anthony’s Verdict:

Intense, uncompromising, and emotional, “The Impossible” treats its topic with a sense of respect and realism sorely missing in disaster movies today. Strongly recommended.

Numerical Score: 8/10

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