My desire to avoid Jack Reacher played a key role in my decision to start 2013 with a more serious film than I may otherwise have liked. The Impossible did have a convincing advertising campaign over the Christmas break so it wasn’t too much of a chore to put off the latest Tom Cruise offering for another few days.
PLOT: The Bennett family are enjoying a picture perfect Christmas in Thailand however on Boxing Day a tsunami engulfs the coast destroying everything in its path. The Bennetts must fight their way through thousands of stranded and injured survivors to be reunited with each another. END PLOT
The Impossible is based on the experience of the Belon family and only they will know how accurate the film truly is. The Belon family are Spanish but for reasons which I don’t doubt to be financial they were changed to an English speaking family the Bennetts.
After a brief introduction to the Bennett family and a few sinister wide shots of the sea the film wastes little time in getting down to business. The plot is simplistic in that once the tsunami hits the coast the crux of the film focuses on the Bennetts trying to find each other in the chaos that followed. The decision to focus on one family was the right one for this type of film as it allows the audience to fully invest in one family’s journey – a large ensemble cast may have decreased the emotional impact of the events.
The story focuses on the Bennett family but The Impossible does a fine job of playing up the kindness (or lack thereof) of strangers, the hardworking staff at the overcrowded hospitals and the residents of Thailand were also portrayed very favourably. The counter argument to focusing on one family is that the story doesn’t show the sufferings on a wider level. It probably comes down to personal opinion as to how you view this but I thought that The Impossible made the correct decision to keep the emotional arc solely with the Bennett family.
It is the casting which makes The Impossible a terrific yet emotionally traumatising experience with each character making me tear up on more than one occasion.
Naomi Watts is surely one of the best actresses in Hollywood and in The Impossible she proved why. Watts enjoys the lion’s share of the screen time which hinders Ewan McGregor slightly but The Impossible is a good reminder that McGregor can act and by the gods the man does know how to cry.
A film is only as good as its child stars but Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast were all faultless as the young Bennetts.
Watts, McGregor and Holland all deserve at the very least nominations for their performances but whether the film generates enough steam to support an Oscar campaign remains to be seen.
The tsunami itself was terrifyingly realistic and despite being only a small part of the film it felt as though it was never ending.
Juan Antonio Bayona directed The Orphanage and is no stranger to graphic make up. The leg injuries suffered by Maria Bennett were the stuff of nightmares with the horror being exacerbated by Watts’ performance.
The older I get the more of a crier I am becoming but any tears that fell in The Impossible were genuine. The performances were so raw there was no need to manipulate the audience into crying.
The Impossible is an utterly compelling and emotional watch – whether it be Henry Bennett’s complete breakdown or two extras being reunited in the background it is hard not to view the film with a lump in your throat. The Impossible gets a 9/10 but unfortunately it is one of those films which has been watched and appreciated but will not get a second viewing.