Based on an incredible true story, The Impossible paints a terrifying picture of what it was like to be in Thailand on the morning of December 26th, 2004. Thousands of people were killed in Southeast Asia that day, and the remarkable story of the Belons was what inspired this film.
It’s Christmas vacation for the Bennett family. Maria, Henry, and their three sons Lucas, Thomas, and Simon are vacationing in Thailand. On the morning of December 26th, the family is relaxing around the pool when they witness the ground start to shake and a distance hum rising up from the beach. Maria freezes in terror as she notices the massive wall of water which is engulfing everything in front of them.
This is the part of the film that is incredibly difficult to watch. The audiences follow Maria as the water tumbles her body across the landscape cutting, stabbing, and bruising her every inch of the way. Director Juan Antonio Bayona does an incredible job at making audiences hold their breath here. Minimal sound effects accompany the scenes of devastation. You only hear the sounds that you would have heard had you been the one tossed around and crushed by the waves. This subtle touch creates a very powerful sequence which leaves you grimacing every time Maria gets sucked back under the water.
Maria has not lost all her family however, after several minutes of being carried inland by the waves, she sees her oldest son Lucas. Together the two look for a place where they brace themselves and regain their strength. Soon help arrives to take them to a nearby hospital. Lucas doesn’t want to leave his mother’s side, but is also wanting to find the rest of their family.
I know I’ve said it before, but this film isn’t easy to watch. However the experience that it gives you not only humbles you but also gives you hope. I won’t say anything more in regards to the plot for those of you that aren’t familiar with the story of the Belon family, but it truly is an exceptional story.
Naomi Watts gives an incredible performance, one that earned her an Oscar nomination. Ewan McGregor also delivers a solid performance, but the true star here is Tom Holland, who plays the oldest son Lucas. Holland does an incredible job at transitioning between vulnerability and determination. Pulling the heartstrings of the audience as if we’re all marionettes, Holland shows us incredible growth in his character – at the beginning of the film he is a child on Christmas vacation – by the end of the film, he is selfless and he has grown into a remarkable young man. Why Holland wasn’t nominated for an Oscar is beyond me.
Special features on the DVD release include audio commentary, a special casting featurette, deleted scenes and more.
Overall, The Impossible tells a story that should have been just that, impossible. But it’s a rewarding experience very much worth having for movie lovers. This is one of the most powerful films I’ve seen a long while. Not many films have the ability to humble and impress audiences with the endurance of such horrific situations and do so with this degree of strength and grace. We often forget how amazing we all can be in the face of catastrophe, and The Impossible gives audiences an inspiring reminder to be good and help others. Something we should be doing at all times – not just in times of disasters.
Review By: Emma Loggins