The Impossible


Drama / Thriller


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February 11, 2013 at 9:08 am



Naomi Watts as Maria
Ewan McGregor as Henry
Tom Holland as Lucas
720p 1080p
750.58 MB
24.000 fps
1hr 54 min
P/S 18 / 77
1.40 GB
24.000 fps
1hr 54 min
P/S 10 / 8

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Ray Lahey 8 / 10

A terrible event ... but a moving film


The 2004 tsunami was one of the deadliest natural disasters on record. Because it occurred in the Christmas season and hit many resort area beaches its death toll of almost 250,000 was indiscriminate, taking not only South Asians but many visiting vacationers. People everywhere were affected by it. My own relatives who were then living in Thailand were destined that day to be on the beach, but, unknown to the rest of us, illness caused them to alter their plans. I personally heard from Thai acquaintances the story of nieces and nephews who excitedly ran to the shore to see the wondrous phenomenon of the receding ocean, only to be swamped by its return. Weeks later, flying over the Indonesian coastline, I could see with my own eyes just how far inland the wave had rushed, and the devastation it had wrought.

How do you frame such a catastrophe in human terms, and present a situation of pure chaos in a way that makes a compelling story? How do you tell such a tale in a way that respects both the lost and the survivors, many of whom suffered personal tragedies as well, and more of whom bore the guilt of survival? How does one story tell some of the many stories of that day? These were among the challenges that faced director Juan Antonio Bayona and screenwriter Sergio G. Sanchez when they decided to put an account of the 2004 tsunami on the screen. Their solution was to deal with one British family on vacation in Thailand from Japan, but their film uses that family as a catalyst to show the tsunami's awful effect not only on the tourist population but on the local people who suffered even more.

Both the film itself and the filmmakers have taken pains to say that this is a "true story," and they have aimed for the greatest possible authenticity in the circumstances. They have based themselves on detailed interviews with the family members and with other survivors, some of whom actually appear in the film. (For example, those who tell their tales to Ewan McGregor at the bus station are almost all actual survivors.) While footage of the tsunami strike itself was shot in a water tank at Alicante on the Spanish coast, and a couple of days filming of interiors took place in Spanish studios, the remainder of this picture was shot on location in Thailand using the real places of the story, such as the Orchid Beach Hotel in Phang Nga, and the actual hospital where much of the action occurs.

The actual Thai locations and the many Thai actors keep the production values superb, and give this film an authenticity it would not otherwise have. So of course do the survivors who take part, whose emotions are sometimes all too real. Many video shots exist of the tsunami hitting the Asian beaches, but no one who was not there can have any real idea of what it must have been like to have been caught up by its waters. Bayona has chosen to focus not so much on the massive power of the tidal wave itself but on the sheer terror and disorientation it must have created for those submerged in it, and upon the human toll it took. But his scenes of its striking are horrific enough to give some sense of its magnitude, even on the screen. Nor does he pull his punches in some of the grisly scenes that follow. The impressive results that display both the striking wave and its terrible aftermath owe much to production designer Eugenio Caballero.

The big names here are Ewan MacGregor as Henry and Naomi Watts as Maria, his doctor wife, while Geraldine Chaplin has a cameo role as a lady who comforts one of their sons on a starlit night. MacGregor and Watts seem to suit their parts, but in a sense they are playing predictable roles. They become a couple literally torn apart, a father having to search among the debris for the remainder of his family and a mother who for much of the picture hovers close to death. The family's three sons are played by Tom Holland (Lucas), Samuel Joslin (Thomas) and Oaklee Pendergast (Simon). The two younger boys are cute as well as being effective, but that is not really a word that suits Tom Holland. The young British actor displays a surprising maturity and delivers a wonderfully measured performance, reminiscent of a younger Daniel Radcliffe. Despite the bigger names involved, it is his portrayal of Lucas that carries the picture since he is the hub around whom events revolve as the individual stories unfold. That is a lot to ask of a young actor, but Holland delivers.

No one story can ever do justice to the events of that day and the days that followed. Nor can a story set in just one location ever capture just how wide-ranging were the tsunami's effects. How can you tell the story of what happened almost simultaneously in Indonesia and India, Myanmar and Malaysia, and eventually affected even the African coast. Thankfully, Bayona doesn't try. He focuses on the few, hoping that through them audiences will better understand the tale of the many. For such a story, The Impossible is perhaps a more than fitting title, but the film works and gives a view that is both visually impressive and dramatically moving.

The Impossible premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2012. It will open in Spain on October 11, and go into general release in North America in the last week of December.

Ray Lahey

Reviewed by Clayton Davis ( 8 / 10

Watts and Holland own it...One of the Best Pictures of the Year!

A film that captures real life the way J.A. Bayona captures it in his newest film The Impossible is a rare occurrence in filmmaking. Not only does he pay respect to the countless victims that were lost in the devastating tragedy, he makes artistic choices and liberties only the most seasoned directors can take. Starring Academy Award Nominee Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, the film tells the TRUE story about a family vacationing in Thailand when one of the worst natural disasters of our time separates them.

In the opening credits of the film, Bayona tells the audience that the story is true, but what may bother viewers and critics is how coincidental and inflated the story can seem. If it weren't in fact true, the film would fail within the first few moments. It's the notion that this did occur that demonstrates and heightens the execution of Bayona and writer Sergio G. Sanchez so brilliantly. The Impossible is the most emotional and devastating picture seen since Paul Greengrass' United 93 (2006). In the first several minutes, I was already in tears. Letting up only for short breaths, I feel like I didn't stop crying the entire time. I was invested, full body and soul, riding among the victims in a frightening state of mind. I could only imagine myself there, terrifyingly so and with appreciation now that I wasn't. The brave and committed performance by Naomi Watts is the miracle of the film and possibly the entire year. Watts falls into the role of "Maria" with perfect precision and accuracy. As a person who's only been a father for a year-and-a-half, Watts puts me right in the moment of unimaginable fear and pain. An Oscar-caliber turn as I've ever witnessed. The entire first half of the film is shared with Tom Holland, a child actor that can only be described as well beyond his years. Holland is motivated and equally as afflicting as Watts. A performance like his can only lead to more roles for him in the future. Ewan McGregor, who unbeknownst to me as gone this long without receiving any type of Oscar attention is pure magic. He shows an effortless approach as Henry, a father desperate to find his family. If there's one poor criticism about the film it's the first half of the film, where Holland and Watts dominate, is so gut-wrenching and brilliant that when McGregor and his story enter the screen, it unfortunately just pales by comparison. McGregor isn't given the most of character development to chew through but it's still an admirable work.

Cinematographer Oscar Faura's orange and yellow camera work demands the utmost attention from the viewer, gaining a near first-person view of what could have been. It's a technical achievement of the highest levels. Fernando Velasquez's somber score will only build the tears even more as your catapulted through this reenactment of terror. J.A. Bayona's direction is simplistic but delivered with reverence. A fine directorial turn.

This is a film that must be experienced by all. As you lay in your cozy beds tonight, take your loved ones for granted as they walk by you, and breath the air you so blindly feel entitled to, think about if at one moment, one single moment, from now, it was all gone. The Impossible dared me to be a better human being, a notion not many films will or attempt to convey. I'll try to listen.

It's one of the best pictures of the year!

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Reviewed by mrlmann1 9 / 10

A Must See Movie

At first I did not think this movie was something I would like to see. I felt it would be one of those movies that once the disaster happened it would become dis-interesting and would be boring the second half of the movie. I am very happy I had the opportunity to see it. The only reason I did not give it a 10 was I thought the character build up was a little shallow. I would have liked to get know the family a little better before the disaster. Other than that I feel that the movie was fantastic. Once the inevitable happened the film kept my interest and was very compelling throughout. The special effects were realistic and not over done. I wish foreign movies like this would make a bigger release in the United States to show Hollywood how to make a movie especially a true story movie. I felt when I was watching this film that I was seeing it actually happening with no to very little exaggerations. That is where I feel Hollywood falls short and puts allot of drama in a film that really did not occur in the true event. If there were exaggerations in this movie they were seamless and not over done. If you have a chance to see this movie I feel it is "a must see movie" you will not be disappointed.

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