True stories are always highlighted for audiences to notice the reality or seriousness of a film; in some cases it’s a catalyst for increasing the scare factor of horror movies. There is no truer story than the realization of survival the Belón family and other victims had to overcome that Christmas holiday weekend in Thailand when the tsunami hit. The Impossible follows Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, and their three boys as the Bennett family. Based on the true story of the Belón family, director Juan Antonio Bayona, creates a masterpiece that expresses the power of assistance and displays how the barrier of language is not a factor in the needs of nourishment. This film captures the brutality of the tsunami with such elegance, the contradiction of the disaster incites one of the best performances I’ve ever seen by a cast and cinematography so captivating, the ruggedness of the catastrophe resembles the authenticity of the actual happenings.
Imagine vacationing next to a pool, and the next thing you know you’re clinging onto a tree for your life. No matter how hard you try, imagining such a ridicule idea is impossible. The married couple in the film, played by Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, were taking a vacation with their three kids in Thailand for the Christmas holidays. Next thing you know the family is separated by one of the biggest disasters to hit the world.
Every performance in this film is genuine, but the actor who stole the show is Tom Holland. Holland’s performance is undeniably one of the year’s best performances with his constant guard of his injured mother and the service he provides for others. Holland’s passion to stay optimistic and help his mother survive comes with great relatability when it comes to family love, though in this case, instinct and love are joined to create an energy unmatched. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts portray the best parents they can be. Both characters have the same motive in searching for one another but carry out different tasks, due to certain conditions that arise. Each character in the movie, regardless if they are an extra, minor character, or main character, buys into these roles as if they were actually victims in the real tsunami.
The performances of all the actors are unforgettable, but the way the characters are captured in the disaster is what establishes the emotional impact this film brings upon an audience. Beginning at the first scene until reaching initial impact of the tsunami was pure silence and virtue. The ocean was calm and graceful, floating at the bottom of the screen. The sound in the air is pure silence, the only sound that could be heard are the voices of the kids playing back and forth. Now an unsettling vibration can be felt, screams are heard from the direction of the beach and all you can do is stand and wait.
The scene of the first contact of the tsunami was not just blinded by the characters but by the audience as well. The shots were made specifically to let us and the characters know when the tsunami hit, so we could suffer the same reaction. After impact, the characters are captured very closely to feel this sense of proximity around them. Rather than using long shots and constant aerial shots to capture the desolated survivors in the wide vast area of flooded land, the majority of the scenes were captured tightly to perceive the feeling of being lost in the foreign country. Though many of the scenes in this film are disturbing to look at because of how real they are, the scenes are captured beautifully to tell this impossible survival story that sounds too good to be true.
Director Juan Antonio Bayona has already terrified us with The Orphanage, but now has made us cry with The Impossible. This story captures the realism of human actions from every side of society, whether you speak different languages or the person is unknown to you at all. Guidance can be understood in all types of languages and that’s the key this film holds for its viewers. Maria Belón survived to tell a story, this story is a remarkable story that got to be made into a film. The film is one of the best films of 2012 that every film fan should go and see, not for its art form, but for the amazing story you’ll get to see rather than just hear.
10/10 - “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”