Movie review: The Impossible - swept away

The Impossible, through some fantastic CGI, shows the massive impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.


Noman Ansari February 18, 2013
Film is based on an extraordinary story of a Spanish family that survived an actual tsunami.

The Impossible is not a horror film, yet it is one of the most chilling films I have ever seen. Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, this film is based on an extraordinary story of a Spanish family that survived an actual tsunami. Twice in the opening credits of the film, the viewers are told that the amazing narrative which is about to sweep them away, is indeed a true story.

At the centre stage of the act is the resourceful physician Maria Bennett, whose brilliantly harrowing portrayal by Naomi Watts has earned her a 2013 Academy award nomination. Maria here is shown to be a courageous woman, who along with her thirteen-year old son Lucas (Tom Holland) is swept away without warning from a resort in Thailand.

The Impossible, through some fantastic CGI, shows the massive impact of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which has now gone down in history as one of the world’s worst natural disasters. The film displays the awesome might of the tsunami waves, as buildings and people alike are broken and torn apart like mere sand castles on the beach. Maria, herself, is tossed like a rag doll by this unstoppable force of nature. Indeed, at one point, Maria is like a frog in a blender, as she is painfully and repeatedly struck by debris, making her survival, as well as the fact that she manages not to lose Lucas, all the more incredible.

The family that Maria leaves behind is husband Henry (Ewan McGregor), as well as her young sons Tomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee), who hope against the odds for the survival of their loved ones. Here, Ewan gives a fantastic performance as a father who tries to find strength for his traumatised children and a man who won’t give up on his missing family. Meanwhile, Maria is given great support by Lucas, who turns to help countless other survivors, as the two try to endure the deathly aftermath of the natural disaster.

The film’s main character is based on María Belón Alvárez, who has now gone on to become an advocate and spokesperson for survivors of tsunamis. After watching The Impossible’s highly emotional ending, I can understand why she later stated “The tsunami was an incredible gift. I embrace life. My whole life is extra time”.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, February 17th, 2013.

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