Movie: The Impossible
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Genre: Tsunami tears family apart
IMDB says: An account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time.
Now here’s a movie that’ll make parents weep to see their offspring again, no matter how badly they trashed the house while mum’n’dad were scoffing popcorn at this flick.
A question: If you’re in the mood to go and see a deeply depressing movie designed to make you weep like a small child, should you:
a) go and see it, or
b) go to a mental-health practitioner and remove all the sharp implements from your house.
Perhaps I should have done that instead of going to The Impossible with my sister. What were we after? Sisterly masochism perhaps? We all went to see Titanic, and loved it, and that had lots of water and people dying horribly. Knowing how a movie ends doesn’t always mean you shouldn’t watch it.
Optimistically, we both bought bags of lollies to share. After the first ten minutes we both lost our appetite and the sweets sat untouched.
The Impossible is based on the real life story of a Spanish family affected by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.
A few movie-making liberties have been taken in the film: the family is now from the UK, some of the concluding scenes are a bit unnecessarily Hollywood, and there is a focus on white/European experiences at the expense of the local Asian experience. There has also been an outcry against the overly happy ending because it doesn’t depict the experience of the hundreds of thousands of people who died or lost family members on that terrible day.
But this is story isn’t about them. It is about a family of five and their incredible luck in not only surviving their ordeal more or less intact, but finding each other in the wake of the devastation.
It is about the small things that bring us together — and tear us apart — when disaster strikes. Sharing a mobile phone, not knowing when the battery will run out. A mistaken name. The kindness of strangers. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Waiting that extra minute.
The Impossible takes you under the wave, and even though it is only images on a screen, the breath is sucked from your body. A parent’s fear multiplied by an order of magnitude, experienced by millions of people across the globe simultaneously.
I came home and went straight to my kids’ rooms. I watched my eldest daughter sleep, not yet six. I tried to imagine her being my helper, rescuing small children, helping strangers -– I bet she could do it. I hope she never needs to.
Should you see this film? It’s not fun. Or funny or sexy or romantic or easy. You will clench every muscle in your body and not relax for two hours. You won’t enjoy it and you will probably cry. But the story will stay with you, the images, the incredible sound and the terrifying silences. It will stay with you, the sheer luck, the terrible unfairness. It will put you off your food and put things in perspective. For a while at least.
It is extraordinary. And awful. And I hope I never feel that way again.
We’re giving it 3 out of 5 drowned rats.