REVIEW: The Impossible


impossible_ver5Behind the majority of tragic catastrophes in the modern age, we are provided with a film based on those events featuring a story that becomes a symbol of hope and leaves the audience a lot to reflect on. The Indian Ocean tsunami on Boxing Day 2004 appeared out of nowhere and shook us all. In fact, it became one of the deadliest natural disasters in world history. So, The Impossible examines the horrors of these events through an innocent family’s real-life experience and also leaves the audiences with a leap of faith within humanity. Therefore, although it is hard to watch on many occasions, The Impossible is an incredibly powerful motion pictures that is filled with suspense, emotional drama and is quite possible one of the most courageous disaster stories adapted put to film.

Besides having a wide historical background, The Impossible had issues as a film. Over the years, disaster motion pictures have been over-killed by Roland Emmerich, a director who succeeds on a visual level but totally misfires in terms of realism, heartbreak and emotional drama. However, the superb direction from Spanish filmmaker Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) fulfills the purpose of The Impossible at a both tragic and inspirational standard. While he has already worked on scaring and making audiences feel uncomfortable, he expresses something that hadn’t been done before. The tsunami itself is evidently an immensely powerful force of nature upon the innocent in a civilized society, but is exposed as a sin that totally tears the ordinary, peaceful lifestyle apart.

Furthermore, the actual disaster killed thousands so the biggest challenge was to illustrate a balance of respect as well as involvement between those who lost their lives and those who survived. While Bayona pulls this off beautifully, he gives the audience a very gripping in-sight to the disaster, particularly during the tsunami. The creative use of camera movement during the sequence created an uncomfortable illusion that the audience were as close to the tsunami as the victims within the film, and it did not need 3D effects. Therefore, Bayona’s direction in The Impossible is among the list of most underrated and overlooked works of modern filmmaking.

In front of Spanish director in a Spanish-made film based on a Spanish family are two British actors taking the roles of young parents Maria and Henry (Enrique in real-life). First, there is Naomi Watts who delivers a very powerful performance as an innocent wife and mother who becomes on the verge of death and must take a large step in order to survive. Watts’ role is not entirely shown in a powerful form through dialogue and chemistry with other actors but particularly during the second half of the film, we saw her emotionally and physically suffering through her eyes and figural expressions. Watts is an underrated actress anyway but her performance as Maria is one of her best to date.

On the other hand, Ewan McGregor portrays Henry (Enrique) who becomes separated from his wife and eldest son following the tsunami. McGregor has always been a Hollywood star but despite that and a few exceptionally great performances, he mostly fails to grasp the realistic touch of his roles. He is more of a supporting actor in The Impossible as child star Tom Holland (who portrays the eldest son Lucas) overshadows him but when we do see McGregor, he is good enough. As for Tom Holland, yet another child newcomer in the film industry, shines out of nowhere in the role of Lucas. As Watts’ appearance slowly drops whilst McGregor’s increases, Holland literally carries the film and becomes the symbol of innocence and courage behind it all. So, in some ways he is the bigger priority in The Impossible than the more sophisticated McGregor and Watts.

Despite The Impossible evidently showed signs of courage within humanity, the film is still gut-retching to watch as it shows the horrors of that shocking, devastating Boxing Day. It has a very similar set-up to Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center but Juan Antonio Bayona created much more realistic drama through impressive camera movement, editing and managed to capture the heartbreak of the hundreds and thousands who perished through a single story about a civilized family. Nevertheless, ‘the impossible’ becomes fulfilled here and is a dramatic journey that sets up a new benchmark in disaster cinema.


~ by SJMJ91 on 09/02/2013.

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