Thursday, 14 February 2013

The Impossible

UK Release: 1st January 2013
Watched in the Cinema: Wednesday 13th February 2013
Rating: 12A
Genre: Drama, History, Thriller
Runtime: 1hr 54mins
IMDb Plot Synopsis: A regular family - Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three kids - travel to Thailand to spend Christmas. They get an upgrade to a villa on the coastline. After settling in and exchanging gifts, they go to the pool, like so many other tourists. A perfect paradise vacation until a distant noise becomes a roar. There is no time to escape from the tsunami; Maria and her eldest are swept one way, Henry and the youngest another. Who will survive, and what will become of them?

My Review: After years of waiting (I first featured it on my Most Anticipated list in 2011), The Impossible finally reached my local cinema. And it was as epic and heart-breaking as I expected it to be. What hit me most was how the film centered wholly on the family, with very little ‘happy’ time before the tsunami struck. The home-movie camera work on Christmas morning only added to the true story element, because of course this happened just over 8 years ago now and so it is still quite fresh in people’s minds. I may have only been 11 at the time but I definitely remember the horrifically devastating pictures on TV and the huge waves were beyond my comprehension. The movie does a great job of showing that without it feeling to CGI-heavy. The scenes directly after the waves hit the resort are my favourite. 
For a long while it focuses only on Naomi Watts’ character Maria and her son Lucas (played fantastically by Tom Holland - he was by far the best actor in this film!). We see the two of battling the water and debris and it all feels so incredibly real - as if you’re right there with them. The naturalness between them is amazing and you’re so relieved when they finally are taken to a hospital. 
However, that’s when things start to get even more emotional as the film then shows the aftermath of the tsunami and the terrible conditions in hospitals and shelters, were people from all across the world are attempting to communicate with each other and find their loved ones in a sea of thousands. You feel that urgency and desperation as mother and son fight to stay together and when torn apart it is unbearable.
I could literally feel the people shaking in their seats around me fighting back the tears and with the (sometimes over the top) soundtrack swelling it was hard not to join them. Yet it wasn’t until the final act that I felt like tears might come when the three little brothers are finally reunited after ridiculously tense scenes of family members narrowly missing out on finding each other. It really highlights how easy it is to get lost in the system or in the crowds of people suffering with what felt like very little organisation. When the family is finally reunited Maria is close to death and so the film is then about whether or not she will live and attempting to get back home which i felt was wrapped up far too quickly. We se the family put on a plane but an update of her condition wasn’t given nor do we see any other people leave which I think is a little insulting. We have spent the entire film willing them to survive but ending the film where they are mostly fine isn’t quite good enough when there are still thousands left stranded. I think a more satisfactory ending would have been to see some of the clear-up maybe, a more stable country - perhaps even Maria becoming a doctor in Thailand to wrap up the hints that she wants to go make to work and help people? It is left very uncertain and if it weren’t for that I think it would have been a much more enjoyable watch. However, the rest of the film was incredibly tense, emotional and very well shot making you feel as if you were right there in the after-math. My only hesitation was the conclusion and the cinematic gloss perhaps given to this devastating event.

Score: 8/10

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