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Based on a true story, 'The Impossible' tells of a family's chaotic struggle after the 2004 East Asia tsunami.
Henry (Ewan McGregor), Maria (Naomi Watts) and their three boys go on holiday to Thailand for Christmas, but get swept up in a catastrophic tsunami. Initially separated, Maria finds her eldest son Lucas, but with the others nowhere to the seen, the two attempt to make their way to safety before trying to find their family. But with Maria's injuries getting more and more severe, her life hands by a thread.
Will Henry and his two young sons be able to reunite with Maria in time?
Eight years after the disaster, 'The Impossible' opens with a frightening dramatism and a realism that may haunt those affected. The impact of the effects, both visually and audibly gives intensity and huge impact. The first thing to notice is the sheer bravery of the movie in not shying away from the truth.
The visual imagery (wounds/blood and all) inflicts pain on the viewer and does not allow you to sit idly through. Whether physically, emotionally or psychologically, you empathise with the characters and are very much involved and engaged with their desperate struggle for survival and reunification with their family.
Spanning just two days or so in the movie but at around two hours long, the film at times feel dragged out and longer than necessary. Nonetheless, the movie is powerful and ends with a message of hope.
Ewan McGregor- Henry
Naomi Watts- Maria
Nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and SAG, Naomi Watts' performance is deeply powerful and moving, one showing a woman of strength and resilience. She carries the movie effectively and supported well by Ewan McGregor.
'The Impossible' is a powerful movie, both in its shocking realism but as a movie to inspire and to instill hope. Though at times painful to watch physically and emotionally, led by the brilliant Naomi Watts. The only downside is that it feels somewhat exaggerated at times and somewhat too long in length. Nonetheless, it is a strong and moving film that deserves a watch.
On Boxing Day in 2004, shortly after Christmas festivities finished the world woke up to the horrific news stories of a Tsunami that had hit south-east Asia. At first the implications of what such a force of nature could do to a civilisation were unclear but then the figures started to come through. Although impossible to be precise, over 250,000 people had lost their lives in just a few short hours. At some points the water reached heights of 94 feet. To most of us the scale of that disaster is beyond our imagination and we are left with lingering images from news channels and numbers that defy comprehension.
To Maria Belon, Enrique Alvarez and their three sons Lucas, Tomas and Simon the understanding is so much clearer for they were there, relaxing by the pool just metres from the beach when the wave struck without warning.
In the words of Maria:
"I remember being pushed against walls. You could feel them trembling and breaking, feeling them as they gave way, one after another."
Maria's body was flung through a plate glass window and then through the whole hotel that she was staying in before being washed inland by the force of the Tsunami.
"I was under the water for a long, long time. I was not in physical pain but the drowning sensation was like being in a spin-dryer. The doctors said I was underwater for more than three minutes because my lungs were absolutely full of water. I saw many lights under the water, tunnels with lights at the end, that people tell you they see when they are going to die."
It was hearing Maria telling her story on Spanish radio that prompted Juan Antonia Bayona to create a film. It is a brave move that has been tried only one time before by Clint Eastwood. Eastwood's attempt was universally acknowledged to have failed to capture the gravitas of the situation people faced on the day and then in the weeks and months that followed.
To hear Maria telling her story visit:
The film begins with just a few minutes of the holiday being established and then immediately we are thrown into the catastrophe of the story as the wave strikes. The realism in these scenes is the result of over a year of production. The ten minutes that show the impact of the wave itself involved months of shooting and 35,000 gallons of water each day. The end result is nothing short of shockingly spectacular. Enrique is by the pool with the two younger sons when the wave strikes and he, Tomas and Simon disappear in front of Maria's eyes just seconds before she too is washed away. Miraculously having passed quite literally through their hotel complex Maria manages to fight to the surface only to glimpse her eldest son Lucas also being thrown viciously around by the swirling water. Despite what turn out to be significant, life-threatening injuries she summons all the strength that comes from being a mother in order to fight her way through the currents to save her son.
There follows a scene that helps illustrate the warmest side of human nature when as mother and son try to reach a higher point for safety they hear somebody else crying out for help. Lucas is adamant that they cannot risk themselves but is persuaded by his mother and they pull out a small boy, Daniel. I don't want to put in too many spoilers for I think this is a film that needs watching and experiencing as it is but following on in real life Maria was later to say that she regrets loosing touch with Daniel and sincerely hopes that he is well in his life following the Tsunami.
The story then splits into two segments. Miraculously, Enrique finds both younger sons, Tomas and Simon. They are facing the growing reality that Maria and Lucas are dead. Simultaneously as Maria is treated in one of the over crowded emergency hospitals, her and Lucas feel a certainty that the Tsunami has claimed the lives of Enrique, Tomas and Simon.
The strength of this film is in how it takes a true story and through wonderful acting creates in the viewer the sensations of the day. You feel something of the fear, the desperation and the loss as you watch this film.
If there is a negative aspect to this movie it is that at times it feels indulgently sentimental. Accepting that this would be difficult to avoid having heard Maria's emotive story one maybe forgives this.
The memory of Boxing Day 2004 is beginning to fade for many of us that watched the news stories as the cold turkey was served but for those that survived the horrors of that day the memories live on vividly. Many of the survivors make an annual pilgrimage to the site of the Tsunami and reflect on their own fortune in making it through this catastrophic event. For those of us that weren't there this film does a remarkable job of transporting us, not just to the events and the locations but also, through the improbable story of Maria Belon, to the emotions of the day. It is this success in portraying the emotions that marks this out as a great piece of film-making and one that I recommend unreservedly.
I first saw this film at the cinema after seeing a trailer for it on TV. The film's based on a true life story of a family who got caught up in the tsunami in 2004.
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Stars: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
A family travel to Thailand to spend Christmas out there. They begin to relax by the pool until they hear an ulmighty roar and shudder. We then see a huge wall of sea over the palm trees that sweeps them and everyone else away. The family are split and we see how they survive and the extrodinary events they go through. We are always left wondering who survives and how they will find each other again. The film takes us on a journey that we live through the eyes of the family.
This film was probably one of the most powerful and thought provoking film I have ever watched. It really makes you realise how awful the tsunami was and how it affected so many people. I just couldn't even imagine being in that situation.
The filming was clever, we see the characters getting swept through the murky water and we see underwater all the debris that hits each of the characters. You can then see its not just the water that causes injury and death, its more about what's in the water. The special effects are amazing, believable, not over the top. They really show the true disaster and how widespread it was. You sometimes feel you are the one in the water and I found myself squirming when one of the characters got hurt or pulled under the water.
I thought the acting in the film was brilliant, really believable with lots of emotion. Watts puts on a great performance as Maria, she is very vulnerable and needs her son to help her, its heartbreaking, as Lucas steps up to take charge and look after her. He knows what he has to do - get his mum to safety. We also then follow Henry (McGregor) with his other two boys. Again a great performance he, as any father would, is trying to keep his boys safe but wants to find his wife and son. He makes the tough decision to let his boys go off to the mountains for safety whilst he looks for his wife and son, not knowing whether they are even still alive. I really felt for Henry, trying to put myself in his situation and what I'd do.
The film is at times quite disturbing and I found myself looking away. We see injured people by the roadside, in the hospital, a vomiting scene and a horrible injury to Maria's leg. Although shocking it really helps portray what happened and how the tsunami effected people.
A very good film but not an easy watch.
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor come together in The Impossible. This is the compelling true story of one family's struggle to survive after being hit by the 2004 Tsunami.
In the film McGregor and Watts play a fairly ordinary married couple who have selected Thailand as the holiday destination for them and their three children. Sadly in 2004 their holiday was rudely interrupted when a devastating tsunami ripped through the resort and inflicted death and destruction to the local population.
The film itself is split into two fairly distinct parts. Throughout the first half of the film Maria (Watts) and their oldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) have to survive the initial wave, and then struggle to find their way to safety. The hope is that on finding a safe haven they will also be able to find their family. Maria was injured during the initial wave, so Lucas must grow up quickly as he deals with the emotional trauma of seeing his mother in such a state.
The second half focuses the attention on the father Henry (McGregor) who has found the other two children, but abandons them to a group of strangers so that he can set off on a quest to find the rest of his family.
Both of their respective journeys are filled with danger and tragedy, and your emotions are constantly being dashed around by the tight script and emotional performances. Watt's gives a tender performance as the mother trying to remain strong for her son. Meanwhile McGregor gives a far more intense performance as the desperate father Henry, and ensures that you can relate to him even when his actions are completely irrational. However the film truly shines whenever Tom Holland is on screen as Lucas. Seeing this child become a man during such a devastating event is an emotional experience, and Holland's performance ensured Vicky's tears were flowing from beginning to end. Even I welled up at a few moments, and that says a lot.
If I'm honest with myself I did find that the writing seemed a little forced at times. Due to the nature of the film the writers were required to emphasize every single moment of emotion so that the audience would respond. At times this would feel like they were trying to manipulate your emotions when the story was already emotional enough. However this is a minor criticism as the actors pulled off everything they were required to, so that the audience would cry along even during these heavy handed moments.
However The Impossible is a film that you'll regret missing on the big screen! The initial wave is absolutely spectacular, and far more authentic than the Hollywood standard. For the first time I realised how horrifying the event must have been for those involved, and that danger was brought out in unflinching detail through some incredible special effects. I wouldn't recommend letting children see the film, as some of the wounds were portrayed quite graphically. However parents looking for a good cry should see this on the big screen.
When I heard about this film I knew it was one I would have to see.
The film is based on the true story of a family who's lives were changed forever by a natural disaster, the 2004 Tsunami.
The film was released in 2012 and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona. It is 113 minutes long.
The film starts on a plane where an English family are travelling to Thailand for a holiday over Christmas. Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons Tomas, Lucas and Simon are shown arriving at their beautiful resort, opening their Christmas presents and the following day, playing around by the pool.
When they are in and around the pool people start looking around as the ground starts to shake and suddenly the huge wave covers the area. The following scenes show people struggling against the water, Maria is clinging onto a tree whilst looking around to try and see the rest of her family.
A while passes and she sees Lucas, they manage to reach each other and struggle along to an area they can walk in. Maria has been injured and is struggling to walk as they try to make their way to a tree, to get up high and out of the water. On the way they spot a child, Daniel, who is trapped and alone. Maria insists that they help him and the three of them manage to climb up the tree before being helped to safety by locals.
The following scenes are disturbing, as people are transported to the hospital, we see others injured by the roadside and people frantically searching for their loved ones. It's quite disturbing, as are the scenes inside the hospital including a vomitting scene which is not for the faint hearted. It wasn't nice to watch but it is better to portray these things "as they were" in a movie which is based on a true story than pussy foot around them.
Maria is laid up in bed and can't move and asks her son to go for a walk or see if he can help someone, on his way a man shows him a family photo and asks if he has seem his family and gives him the names. The young boy wanders through the wards calling his name and each ward he visits, someone else gives him another name to look for until he has a huge list and eventually finds the first man's son. He reunites them and goes back to tell his mum the story to find she has been moved and now he is one of the many people looking for his loved ones. Maria's condition is deteriorating and you can only imagine the pain she is going through, not only physically, but mentally and emotionally, not knowing if she will make it and if the rest of her family survived or will Lucas be left on his own.
It then switches back to the dad Henry, who is wandering around the hotel resort, then the other 2 boys come in. The dad sends the 2 boys off on a bus to safety while he stays to look for his wife and third son. The viewer now knows that the whole family are alive at the moment, which the family do not. We see their distress and increasing panic as each place they look disappoints. Will Henry be able to find his sons and reunite with his wife and son? Will they all survive their injuries? I won't give away the whole thing.
The only reason I have knocked off a star is because I felt there was something missing. Perhaps it was the start of the film, I personally would have liked to have got to know the family a bit more before the disaster struck. The Tsunami came around 10 minutes into the film so there wasn't much introduction to the characters before the story kicked in.
I thought this film was good, it managed to tell the true story of this disaster without over dramatising it with lots of special effects and music. This meant that it all seemed a lot more real. It wasn't easy to watch and was upsetting at times, but still a very good film.
Forget Clint Eastwood and his wishy-washy, pondering afterlife take on the devastating effects the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami left (Hereafter). Juan Antonio Bayona's (The Orphanage) latest is about real people, their real lives, and is interested in giving us a more intimate portrait of a family caught up in this unimaginable disaster. Focusing on the immediate aftermath and the brutal hardship nature suddenly throws at you, here is an unbelievable tale of triumph, strength, overcoming the odds, and the undying human spirit. The aptly named title nicely summarises just what the film has in store for the audience, as we see the tragedy and struggle that befall an unfortunate group of people who quite simply did not see any of this coming. The giant waves swept away more than 200,000, and we follow the lives of the five lucky individuals who survived and found their back to each other.
The set-up is simple and the loving family unit (actually based on a Spanish family but changed here to an English one) is quickly established. There's the father, Henry (Ewan McGregor), the mother, Maria (Naomi Watts), and their three young sons Lucas, Thomas and Simon (Thomas Holland, the cute Samuel Joslin, and the cute as hell Oaklee Pendergast, respectively). They're an ordinary bunch, enjoying their Christmas holidays in Thailand, going about their usual activities that range from playing in the beach, enjoying the nice, relaxed evening atmosphere in a hotel, and kicking back by the pool. Then suddenly, the wind grows stronger. The ground starts shaking. The birds are seen frantically flying away. By the time they realise what's going on, it's already too late. The giant wave is fast approaching, crushing everything that stands in its way. Tree fall, buildings collapse, cars are swept away, people are buried, and what follows is a lengthy aerial shot of the destruction caused minutes after the water crash-lands. The murky liquid looks like a mixture of all sorts of things and what emerges eventually is Maria, fighting for her life, holding onto whatever she can.
Of course, the waves are too strong, and she can barely grab a hold of something stable - with various sharp ends of branches piercing into her body not making things any easier. As the bruised and battered Maris fights for her life, out comes Lucas, her eldest, from the muddy water, he too, barely floating above. The mother and son eventually reach one another, proving whatever little support they can for ultimate survival. This entire sequence is shot with such ferocity with up-close, tight frames that it grips you from the start, and the sheer intensity of the situation is convincingly translated from the screen to the audience. There is never-ending volume of water smashing into the land, and the level of realism we see is harrowing, a deeply troubling escalation of events made worse as seconds go by. Fear and tension naturally build, as it becomes all too uncertain to see just how they are going to pull themselves out of something like this.
Yes , there is plenty of scale and utterly brilliant effects in use here that set the initial tone: but once the storm subsides, the film shows another equally potent but completely different narrative development. Calm and quiet on screen does not mean the worst is over - with a more personal, intimate focus on the family members now, here is where the actors' performances make for such an awe-inspiring, spine-tingling watch. Watts, severely weakened and more vulnerable than ever, puts on quite the heart-breaking performance as a mother, who cannot physically look out for her loved ones. Instead, the tables have turned here, and it's the young Lucas who needs to step up and be the "grown-up." And the 16-year-old Holland makes an astonishing screen debut as the teenager faced with an enormous burden but stuck in a situation where he cannot afford to be the frail one. His drive and focus are what keep the duo together, and luckily too along the way they encounter lots of generosity: because when a disaster of his proportion strikes, differences in colour, gaps in wealth, barriers in language, none of those things matter -and the film reminds us that we must be kind to one another.
Another strand follows Henry and his two younger sons. Unfortunately we never follow what the three of them went through although we suspect it's a similar ordeal to what Maria and Lucas suffered. Knowing that his two youngest sons are safe, Henry now ventures out to look for the other members, following a particularly touching scene in which he promises his father-in-law to find them, a scene that will guarantee many pairs of tearful eyes. McGregor is sensitive and sympathetic in conveying his desperation, as the helpless husband and father in the midst of the worst catastrophe of his life. As we follow Henry, even more disturbing images haunt the screen, and the film never shies away from boldly revealing the extent of damage caused. We see what the characters see, we go wherever they end up, and we too seem to have been thrown into that environment, further heightening that much important feeling of authenticity, a lot of which could have been lost had the film's priorities been more centred on its computer graphics.
It's a big budget movie of grandeur with plenty of empathy and compassion, one that really tugs at your heartstrings. And the healthy pace and fluid editing all contribute to make this all the more accessible despite its difficult, heart-wrenching themes. The final emotional payoff is an incredible one, cleverly bringing the characters back together in a scene that carefully measures its melodramatic boundaries, trying hard never to overdo its audience manipulation scheme. There is a great deal of sweeping soundtrack heavy on the strings involved here which may lead to some members in the audience to roll their eyes, immune to the cinema method of creating uplifting sentiments. But the chances are, the majority will easily be won over by its raw, genuine retelling of a story we all thought knew well, bringing it to the big screen with both energy and affection for its victims in equal measure.
When I noticed a trailer for this in the cinema I knew I wanted to watch it. It is a disaster movie but this has been closely based on a real life story of a Spanish family and what happened while they were caught up in the 2004 tsunami. It is not a light watch film, and I actually found it emotionally draining but it is a film that is a must watch. It is currently showing in cinemas so this is a film only review.
Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three children travel to Thailand to spend Christmas in 2004. After settling in and opening presents, they decide to go to the pool to enjoy their holiday. As they begin their perfect vacation a loud roar trembles in the background. We watch as they are swept up by a wall of sea and the terrible consequences' this leads too. We also see the family swept apart by the water thrown in two different directions. Are they all going to make it through? How will they ever find each other again? In this film we are taken on a journey through the eyes of this family and see what happens to each of them along the way.
We are told from the beginning it is a true story and without this is could have just felt like another natural disaster movie. Each and every one of the cast is picked out perfectly for their characters. They all give exceptional performances, but for me it is Naomi Watts and Tom Holland stick out to me. We do meet other characters along the way, but the main story is based around the one family. By doing this it makes it more personal and we can develop the characters quicker, but we still manage to get a feel for the full devastation around them.
Naomi Watts as Maria was the perfect loving mother who was doing everything to try and protect her children. She is a stubborn mother that is injured but will not let that her stop her trying to find her family. I have seen her in a number of films before but in this movie she really does shine. The main story is based around her and her eldest son and the scenes she was in really did take the lime light away from the rest of the film. She was perfect in portraying both physical pain from her injuries, but also the emotional pain of a mother separated from her family when they so desperately needed her. Ewan McGergor also provides an excellent performance of a father trying everything to get his family back together. I do think that Naomi has gained a lot of credit for this film but he should be equally celebrated. His performance and acting was perfect and although he may not have had the strongest scenes he made his presence well felt.
Tom Holland who plays Lucas the eldest son for me played the best part. He is a newcomer, so to sit with established actors and make himself come across as well as he did was amazing. He does take a huge role in the film and his acting was perfect. He portrays a frightened teenager that was just enjoying a family vacation. He then has to grow into a mature adult who turns into a hero all within the space of the film but he does so effortlessly. Again he is in some of the strongest scenes of the film and never fails to push the emotions through to the viewer. The two youngest boys drift a little in to the background. Their characters are only 7 and 5 so I feel the innocence of them managed to save them from the horrific mess that was going on around them. For younger stars they still put on amazing performances.
I was a little worried before watching this film at how they were going to mange portray the disaster than affected so many people. The filming of the event itself must have been one of the most difficult. The cameras' bob up and down into the darkness of the water beneath so we feel like we are in the water with them. We catch glimpses of the amount of people caught underneath the water helplessly colliding with anything the water steers them toward. The special effects are no doubt amazing. With the pure disaster they had to show to do it as well as they have is a huge achievement. Every scene was believable, and there is something happening from start to finish. They manage to make us feel we are going through everything that is happening in the film with simple camera work.
There is a small run up before the tragedy happens but really the film is very fast paced. It gets in to the bigger story quickly which leaves less time for us to get to know the characters, but they build on this very easily during all of the action. The acting in this film was absolutely amazing. The characters worked closely with the Family to make sure they were able to bring across the pain and emotion felt. This seemed to have helped endlessly as each and every member of the family really brings that home. The pure emotion runs from the moment the family comes on screen unknowing what is about to happen, but we as an audience do.
This film is a PG13 and I can certainly see why as some of the scenes are terribly gruesome. Without wanting to give any spoilers there is one scene that stands out to me. When they are in the make shift hospital one of the nearby patients begins to cough blood. Yes it means the special effects and acting were great but it was so terrifying to watch I had to turn away. It only lasted a minute or two but I really could not look at the screen and the sound alone made me feel sick. Sometimes things feel like they are exaggerated and over the top so without pre knowing it is closely based on the real life events it may have been a bit much for me.
It is an extremely emotional film. I know that in the back of my mind that the story is true so it has more of an effect on me. I never cry at films but this had me sobbing for 50% of the film. The pure emotion the actors mange to portray means that every scene is really heart tugging. Sometimes this is fear for the characters, other time pure happiness but I did sit with a lump in my throat from the beginning. It really is a full on, action packed, emotional thriller but with a deeper meaning behind it.
One thing that did annoy me a little in the film is music. I know it is sometimes important for setting scenes but I feel this film carries itself, and rather than the music being an accompaniment it seems to take over the film. Every time something bad happens, or something significant this music blares out over the scenes. I found it distracting at time as there was so much to watch on the scene it just felt over the top and out of place at most times.
If you cannot already tell I thought this film was stunning. It still has me thinking about it three days later. I really cannot put into words just how brilliant this film is, but honestly it is one to watch. It is a dramatic film but knowing it is a true story really helps push it home. It will make you appreciate what you have and worrying about the little things. I think they have done an amazing job at making a typical end of world/good feel film interesting and heartfelt. I will purchase it when it comes out on DVD and there is no doubt I will notice things I did not the first time round. It is definitely something you could watch over again but make sure you have tissues as it is very sad.