On Tuesday, I wanted to go to the cinema. It was a toss up between ‘The Life of Pi’ or ‘The Impossible’, and since I really wasn’t in the mood to think philosophy, ‘The Impossible’ won out.
The movie adapts the true story of the Belon family (Bennet in the movie) who were in Thailand during the 2004 Tsunami. When the wave sweeps through their resort, the mother Maria, and eldest son Lucas are swept away. Maria is battered close to death by the waters, and they are left believing the rest of their family is dead. Unbeknown to them, father Henry survived, along with their two younger sons, and he begins searching the wreckage for his wife and son.
This movie definitely doesn’t hold back on the punches. When the wave actually hits Maria, the screen blacks out, and its not until much later in the movie you see exactly what the water put her through. That said, when the water recedes, the film doesn’t pretend to hide the sheer damage she’s suffered. The first glimpse of the back of her leg had my entire cinema gasping, not to mention when she and another woman begin coughing up blood and wreckage, including a long length of fishing wire – I had to close my eyes rather than watch that scene. There are also tiny little pieces that break your heart, one man’s tearful sobbing about finding a note from his wife minutes before the Tsunami stating ‘We are at the beach’ is tragic.
Naomi Watts is pretty spectacular as Maria. Especially when you realise how few lines she has – every ounce of her acting ability is going into showing how much pain she’s in…sadly Tom Holland falls flat on a few lines, but still manages to pull of some pretty powerful scenes.
Ewan Macgregor has to be more vocal than Naomi. Left walking wounded after the Tsunami, Henry is forced to make some tough choices regarding the two younger sons he does find in order to keep looking for his wife and Lucas. He manages to appear together and focused…until he is forced to talk about what happened and breaks down, which Macgregor pulls off perfectly.
Of course, the reason this is the family that gets the movie is they were lucky enough to have a happy ending. All 5 members are eventually reunited, in one of the most heartwarming and sob-worthy moments in cinema.
My one vice about the movie though, is one that a lot of people have brought up. Why change the Belon’s to Bennets? Why, instead of a Spanish family, is it a British one. Nearly everyone in the movie is white, with the exception of the few locals that help save Maria near the beginning. I don’t know if its just too many times on tvtropes or just beginning to notice, but there is a decided refusal to have a movie without an American or British star. I know the fact that the Belon’s were Spanish has absolutely no bearing on the story and what happened…but that’s exactly the reason why it shouldn’t have been changed.
However, if you honestly don’t care about casting so long as the plot is good, you wont be disappointed. ‘The Impossible’ is up there with ‘Hotel Rwanda‘ for me when it comes to tragedy and tearful outbursts.
A powerful plot, made all the more poignant by the fact that it’s true. Can be somewhat gruesome at times, but is worth it for the ending.