By Karen Posada
‘The Impossible’ or ‘Lo Imposible’ is a well-crafted natural disaster movie that’s touching, beautiful and definitely haunting. Just from seeing the trailer you know you will need tissues for this one, you would probably need a lot more tissues if the trailer didn’t give most of the movie away. Most films that are based on real life are able to get to the audience and this one certianly is the tear-jerker of the year. The Tsunami this film is based on hit South East Asia 8 years ago, although it might sound like it was a while ago this film makes it feel much more recent because the images and plot are so haunting. One thing to remember though is that wanting to keep so close to the real facts limits the story in itself.
This film tells the story of a family that while spending their Christmas holiday in Thailand experienced one of the worst Tsunamis on record to hit South East Asia in 2004. Mom, Maria (Naomi Watts), dad, Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons: Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) all fight for their survival in this film by Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona and Spanish scriptwriter Sergio G. Sánchez.
What bothers me most about this film is the fact that this story in reality is that of Spanish family Álvarez-Belón (the dad’s name is Enrique in real life), in the film we deal with an English family. Apparently the decision of making the movie in English according to an interview the director had with Spanish newspaper Deia; was because in real life this people were communicating in English being that they were in a foreign country. I wouldn’t have minded having the conversations between the family be in Spanish and the rest in English. There are plenty of internationally recognized Spanish actors that could have taken the place of the characters here. Subtitling would have made me happier as it would have stayed more true to the story; despite of the universality of the story being that thousands went through the same disaster. The only Spanish actress that makes it on the film is Marta Etura and her one line is quite touching. There are times where despite the chaos not much is going on and it feels like there’s something missing, perhaps a bit of embellishing could have helped here, because a few times the characters are just standing around and I’m not quite sure why they decide to make certain decisions.
This being the 9th most mortal disaster in modern human history I would say they did a fantastic job portraying it on the big screen; the scary sounds of the ocean and the unbelievable images of the tsunami created are so realistic it’s chilling to watch. It was amazing seeing it all happen and seeing the different camera shots. The make up job is great; Watts’ injuries are grossly real. The devastating shown is unbelievable and impressive. There’s an eerie quietness and we slowly being to see the solidarity of people despite their own suffering. There’s some confusion in the film, but I think that captured the confusion one must feel in that kind of situation, where not only are you shocked by what happened but you also happen to be in a country where you don’t speak the language. The ocean is truly a secondary character here and it reminds us we need to respect it. The shots of the ocean are beautiful and so artistic as well as terrifying.
Watts being the mom has an important role and she has some key moments where she shows us how good of an actress she is, but is not something we experience throughout the whole movie. McGregor gives an extremely moving performance that will make you cry despite of some of the elements in that scene. But my favorite of all is Holland; the kid is perfect and gives more than expected. On the other hand some of the other actors such as the caregiver, Ploy Jindachote is so stiff at times that she seems to be reading the script right at that second.
The biggest flaw the film has is how much more the audience knows compared to the characters, that element takes away a lot from the film. Despite that I won’t deny that I cried at various points of the movie, since we know what’s coming although the beginning is peaceful we are tense waiting and the director teases us with some scenes prior to the tsunami and scary ocean noises. Once the tsunami comes I was trembling and was automatically emotional, the theater went completely silent. The shock the characters go through doesn’t wear out and neither does ours even after leaving the theater.
Rated: PG-13 for intense realistic disaster sequences, including disturbing injury images and brief nudity
Release Date: 2012-12-21
Screenplay: Sergio G. Sánchez
Official Website: http://www.loimposible-lapelicula.com/