When you go to see a movie that’s based on a real life catastrophe, you have mixed feelings about whether it’s a good idea. Should The Impossible ever have been made? Does it belittle one of the most catastrophic natural disasters the world has ever experienced or does it act as a great homage to those lives devastated by the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004?
The plot of The Impossible follows the fortunes of a family torn apart by the force of the tsunami as it hits the resort that they have spent Christmas at in Thailand. A couple – Maria Bennet (Naomi Watts) and her husband Henry (Ewan McGregor) are swept up by the wave and separated from each other. Henry turns out to be safe with his sons Thomas and Simon, but Maria and their other son Lucas take refuge in a tree with a boy called Daniel who has lost his family. Locals rescue the trio and take them to a hospital as Maria is badly injured.
The film then follows the confusion and chaos which occurs after such a traumatic event and the different protagonists lose sight of each other and then find each other again. In a Disney-esque finale, the whole family ends up being reunited in the same hospital, even though a string of different events takes place that would make the odds of that actually happening extremely unlikely.
Although the plot wraps to a too convenient end, this is a ripping yarn and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The special effects employed to recreate the tsunami are incredible and the actors had to spend many hours in a massive water tank to film some of the really harrowing scenes. Much of the tsunami shots were filmed using digital imagery, but also by filming miniatures being broken up by a real water surge in a water tank in Spain.
Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona chose to keep the nationalities of the main characters unspecified to make the film relevant to all nationalities.
The Impossible was released in the UK in early January 2013 and you can find out where it’s showing by searching for cinema listings London. It’s earned Watts an Oscar nomination for Best Actress and has received critical acclaim for its directing, so even though the plot is a little too unbelievable it’s still worth a watch!