BY MICHELLE MEDFORD
I didn’t want to see The Impossible. I wasn’t really sure what it was about beyond the 2004 tsunami. All I ever saw were pictures of bloodied people hugging. But when Naomi Watts got nominated for a Golden Globe, I was a little curious. My curiosity grew after her Oscar nomination. Then my mom persuaded me, though I still hadn’t even seen a trailer. The first few minutes in, I still wasn’t sure what to expect. Two hours later, I’m ready to persuade you.
The story’s about a family vacationing in Thailand when that unforgettable disaster struck. The family of five is torn apart in the flooded, wrecked aftermath, leaving them injured both physically and emotionally, as they struggle to find each other. But it’s also more than that.
Impressive, Terrifying Visuals
It’s one thing when you can’t even imagine how terrifying and real such a traumatizing experience can be, it’s another to attempt to visually recreate it, and another yet to do it well, as this film does. When I saw that colossal wave come trashing through the resort, there was no question in my mind that this wave was real. When story’s characters were whipped through and under the currents, I didn’t wonder about CGI. Instead, my heart beat a little faster, I cringed and I tried to resist my impulse of turning away.
Such an unbelievably real premise relies heavily on strong performances, and thanks to Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland (a mother, father and son, respectively), that’s exactly what we get. Wounded and frail throughout, Watts delivers a subdued yet powerful performance. Holland is at times protective looking out for his mother, at others vulnerable and alone. And when McGregor cries, I do too. (This also happens every single time I watch Moulin Rouge!, so maybe it’s just an impulse by now.)
Because of this combination of realistic visuals, convincing performances, and true story, we get a moving, heart-breaking movie. In hindsight, had I known what this movie was about, I might have thought that focussing on one hopeful story could trivialize the other lives lost and pain others went through. However, centring on such a rare story only reminds us of the devastating big picture and of others who weren’t as fortunate.