True stories are a difficult genre of film to portray in an accurate light. They should be respected and tell the story of that persons journey in a dignified manner. When it was announced that a film, The Impossible, was being made based on the tsunami that hit Thailand and surrounding countries on Boxing Day, 2004, it appeared a dubious prospect. There’s always a fear that if mishandled, a film based on reality could be seen to be overly sentimental, or worse, disrespectful to those affected.
Husband and wife Maria (Naomi Watts) and Enrique Belon (Ewan McGregor) are spending their Christmas holiday in Thailand with their three children. Planning to spend a few days in Kao Lak, a beautiful resort, their trip is disrupted by a sudden and devastating tsunami.
Never dull, The Impossible directed by Juan Antonio Bayona is a tear-jerking, emotional rollercoaster of a film. Foreboding doom echoes as the audience await the soul shattering moment the wave hits. Once it reaches the beautiful complex their world and ours as the viewers crumbles. What you see next is an unbelievable and what seems accurate, tale of this family’s pure grit and determination to survive and be together.
Naomi Watts was phenomenal as the mother. Pain, suffering but a steel resolve of persistence was written across her face. She brought the audience through the barrier of the screen and into the film. The same can be said for Ewan McGregor. Although having dropped off the acting platform for a while, he has come back with a truly stellar film. Taking the fragile subject and doing it complete justice. Their acting ability may have been tested in their previous work, but in The Impossible, they excel.
Unbelievable were it not based on a true story and with an emotionally wrenching central narrative grounded by two outstanding performances, the title The Impossible really says it all. Nothing else needs to be added.