The Impossible (2012) – Review

3 1/2 Stars


The Impossible is aptly titled, for the unimaginable ordeal that a family of five endures during the massive tsunami that struck Southeast Asia in Dec. 2004. This meticulously detailed re-enactment of one of the worst natural disasters in modern history, is brimming with outstanding acting from adult and children performers and bravo direction from previously unheralded talent, Juan Antonio Bayona. Chronicling the harrowing catastrophe and aftermath of being separated from family and keeping faith as the days pass with little contact from familiar faces, writer Sergio G. Sánchez has focused on the physical trials that faced the vacationing Belon family as the Indian Ocean rose up and swallowed the coastline.

The film opens on an aircraft carrying the Belons, Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) sit engaged in their respective reading materials pausing only to lament trivial matters on the home front. Their three children Lucas, Simon, and Thomas rang from 4 years old to 12. The oldest Lucas, is a hormonal young man prone to temper tantrums and easily annoyed by the cowardice of his younger sibling. As the first act builds to the moment the incredible wave rushes over the island resort taking lives and changing the landscape forever, a sense of mounting dread begins to pile up. Bayona repeatedly gives us aerial shots of the seemingly calm ocean waters, teasing us with the very real threat that unknowingly awaits the Belons.

This is an acting tour de force from Naomi Watts as Maria Belon, a woman whose sense of survival for herself and child is made all the more amazing due to the horrific injuries sustained during the disaster. Since this is a cinematic retelling of a well-documented true story, many viewers may find it difficult to sit through the film knowing its eventual outcome. The power of the film is in the Oscar caliber acting from all three leads, particularly young Tom Holland who plays Lucas with an honest, non-cute-sy style not usually seen in child actors. Michael Henke’s french film Amour received a Best Picture nod from the Academy, yet The Impossible is the best foreign film of 2012, and arguably one of the top ten pictures of 2012, period.

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Stars: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland

2 thoughts on “The Impossible (2012) – Review

  1. Jason, we’re disagreeing again….albeit, only slightly…I gave this 6 cannoli out of 6! Absolutely, without a doubt loved everything about this film. The acting, the effects, the story….I was crying about 15 minutes into it, gripping my chair about 5 minutes into it, and completely taken in by everything.

    As time has passed, I’ve bumped this up into my top 3 for 2012.

    Great review my friend!

  2. Great review. I have been putting this movie off for far too long. Liked that you praised Watts as the biggest focus I’ve heard is on Tom Holland.

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