There have been many natural disasters in the past years and with the immediacy of the media we get repetitious images of damage, horrific loss of life and properties. While our hearts grieve for losses it's rare we get to follow one family through such an experience from be- ginning to end. That's what happens in The Impossible, a film about the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 that appears to be yet another rip-off of a natural disaster but becomes so much more as it recounts the true story of a family who experienced this horrific event.
When Henry (Ewan McGregor), Maria (Naomi Watts) and their three sons head to Thailand to celebrate Christ- mas they're prepared for an exciting time at a resort on the beach. Awaking up to Christ- mas presents is fun, and the beautiful floating luminaria at the welcome party that night is awesome. However, the boys are anxious to enjoy some rigorous activities. The very next day as Henry, Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) head to the pools only minutes later a load roar is heard. Outside their room Maria watches as a strong wind picks up and suddenly a massive tsunami that hits as quick as a tornado, turns the resort and miles beyond into massive wreckage with only few survivors fighting for their lives.
Sitting in a movie theatre no one can be prepared for the scenes that immediately follow the huge waves hitting land. The transformation from sitting and watching a movie to actually feeling as if one is a part of that chaos is due to the filmmakers’ immense concern and skills. Director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) takes the brilliant screenplay by Sergio G. Sánchez (The Orphanage) – from story by Maria Belon – and creates a nearly two hour on-the-edge- of-your-seat drama. Adding more emotional realism to the film is a wonderful music score by Fernando Velazquez, and the unbelievable cinematography of Oscar Faura (Biutiful).
But it's the six special effects companies, special effects masters Félix Bergés and Pau Costa and production designer Eugenio Caballero that create something akin to a horror movie. Maria is the first of the family seen tumbling above and below the water as she's hit full force with debris and trying to find something to cling to.
Maria is almost unbelieving when she sees Lucas in the same water nearby. They must struggle to get to each other but there's many a tear shed by moviegoers when they cling to each other and Lucas sobs in his mother's arms. Only days before he was the one who impressed his mother during the airplane turbulence as the brave one.