Based on a true story, The Impossible just might be the single most terrifying film I’ve ever watched. It’s a harrowing and gut-wrenching film that immaculately recreates the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and yet still emerges as a thing of beauty and grace.
Impeccably directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, The Impossible is a true technical marvel in terms of filmmaking. The realism in which Bayona brings to life the merciless tsunami is simply jawdropping. The ten-minute disaster sequence itself is a visceral piece of cinema that’s infinitely more traumatic and gripping than any run-of-the-mill disaster flicks. With astonishing attention to detail and superb sound design by Fernando Velázquez, it completely immerses you in one family’s devastating ordeal. It’s a remarkably spectacular visual achievement on every level.
I’ll just go out and say it: Naomi Watts deserves an Oscar for her physically-commanding turn as the family’s matriarch. Her turn is nothing short of extraordinary as she manages to imbue incredible fortitude and heartbreaking vulnerability into a role that could have easily gone overboard. Although Ewan McGregor doesn’t have as much to do, he’s still quite stellar in a role that requires him to be the level-headed father who makes rational decisions in the most unbelievable of circumstances. However, the real revelation is Tom Holland who is simply outstanding as the 12 year old Lucas. The character undergoes a brutal journey into adulthood over the course of the film as he struggles to survive and care for his wounded mother. Lucas and Maria’s dynamic is the core of the story and it’s brilliantly realized and appropriately touching. Their connection reminded me of my relationship with my own mother, so it was quite the emotionally satisfying experience for me as a viewer.
Although it’s probably the most intense and uncomfortable film I’ve ever had to sit through, I truly can’t recommend The Impossible enough. The movie perfectly embodies the power, resilience, and triumph of the human spirit. In addition, the manner in which it tackles themes of hope, small acts of kindness, and courage in the face of even the most impossible situations, is inspiring and immensely rewarding. As far as I’m concerned, it deserves all the praise it can get.
With powerful performances and a strong emotional center, The Impossible is a breathtaking and heart-wrenching masterpiece. Undeniably, one of the best films I’ve ever seen.