I will probably never watch The Impossible again. That makes it sound like a bad thing, but let me say quite clearly – it is not. It is a brilliantly realised, impressively acted and impactful film that will have you pondering it for days after seeing it. But, I suppose like Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and other intense and harrowing films, it is one you will watch once and not necessarily want to relive. For it brings to such vibrant life such a devastating event, and really made you feel like you had lived through a small part of it. And for that, it deserves awards a plenty.
For those not familiar with the story – The Impossible tells the ‘true’ (more on that later) story of a family holidaying in Thailand, who were caught up in the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. The mother and elder son were separated from the father and younger two sons – and the movie shows their experience of one of the world’s worst (definitely in terms of fatalties – upwards of 200,000 people died) natural disasters in recent years. It is directed by Spaniard Juan Antonio Bayona, and he does a simply brilliant job. The combination of visual and sound effects, as well as replica miniature sets (which you can’t tell from the real thing) of wiped out villages and resorts, really made this appear more documentary than feature film. He doesn’t pull any punches in depicting the grim reality of the tsunami, with the one thing coming home to me being how dangerous it would just be in the water itself – with sharp bits of debris from buildings and trees being pushed at rapid speed towards you – and with no control over the direction in which you would be pushed. Not to mention the various diseases that would thrive once the waters receded. Or the things you would swallow without even realising it. Pretty terrifying stuff to put it mildy.
The cast did a fantastic job here, and prevented the film from having to drop down to a cheesy level in order to depict the deep emotions they would have been feeling. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor were stellar as always – with Watts a worthy Oscar nominee. But for me it was young Tom Holland, as the eldest son, who was the stand out. He did a fantastic job of conveying fear and vulnerability – combined with the strength required to get through such an experience – and made it look easy. Hollywood should watch out for him. The younger two boys were also super cute, and could actually act – not always so with young kids in movies.
The one thing this film has been criticised for is that the actual story it is based on is that of a Spanish family – not an English family as they are portrayed here. No doubt the decision was made – whether it be by studio big wigs or by the script writer – to make the family English in order to appeal to a wider audience, get over the sub-title barrier, and make it Hollywood-friendly. There is DEFINITELY a rant in me about how Hollywood have to take something great (like Let the Right One In, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or State of Play) from another country and adapt it for American audiences. If I was an American audience member I would be saying ‘enough already – I can read sub-titles, I don’t just care about Americans and I don’t need an A lister in every movie I watch!’. But that is a rant for another day. At the end of the day The Impossible was a fantastic film that told a very worthwhile story about the physical, emotional and financial impact of natural distasters, about valuing the here and now and recognising the fickleness of this planet we live on. And it told that story very well indeed.
M&Ms from me: 4
Oscars it should win: Visual Effects and maybe Sound Editing – it was pretty damn impressive.
Oscars it will win: possibly none unfortunately – due to all the tough competition this year. Naomi was great, but her being great in everything may prove her downfall. Sorry Naomi (it isn’t cos you are Australian…honest ;-)).
Next up: Zero Dark Thirty (so excited… but will it live up to my expectations?)