The Impossible (8/10)
by Tony Medley
OK for children.
everyone has seen video of the tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004 from
the Indian Ocean. This is, in the words of the prologue to the film, a
"true story," not "based on" a true story. Told by director Juan Antonio
Bayona from a script by Sergio G Sanchez which, in turn, was from a
story by Maria Belon, the actual protagonist upon which the film is
based, this is the story of a Spanish family, the Alvarez Belons. They
have been changed into an English family, Henry (Ewan McGregor) and
Maria (Naomi Watts) with three sons Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel
Joslin), and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast). Geraldine Chaplin joins the cast
near the end as an old woman who sits on a hill talking with Lucas.
Adding to the
verisimilitude of the film, it was shot at the real locations where the
ordeal occurred, even employing extras who had been through the tsunami.
The Orchid Resort is the actual resort at which the Belons were
vacationing when the tsunami hit.
The filming of
the tsunami looks like the real thing, but it took a year to shoot the
10 minute scene of the tsunami striking. Special effects master Félix
Bergés says that digital water was not used because it wasn't realistic,
so they used real water, requiring the crew to move over 35,000 gallons
of water on a daily basis. The sequence itself, from beginning to end,
lasted about eight minutes and required over 100 shots.
Watts bore the
brunt of the flood sequence. The scenes where the family is swept away
were shot in a tank in Spain, took about a month and a half, and Bergés
says it was "a nightmare." Watts commented, "that was definitely the
most challenging part of the movie. I'm not Tom Holland's age, it's not
normal for me to be thrown around like that. It was a hard thing to do
for a month. I remember (director) J.A. telling me the lines to say and
I was like, I can't speak, I've got a mouthful of water." So it was
apparently as frightening to shoot as it is to watch. It's a very
impressive piece of filmmaking. One cannot tell the difference between
what these filmmakers created for the screen and the real thing.
The acting is
exceptional, especially by Watts, McGregor, and Holland. Something's
wrong if they all don't get nominations and/or awards. In the end, this
is a touching monument to familial love, and all the more rewarding to
know that it is true.