Valdosta Daily Times


February 14, 2013

Movies: ‘The Impossible’ has plausible possibilities

VALDOSTA — “The Impossible” (Drama: 1 hour, 54 minutes)

Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona

Rated: PG-13 (Intense disaster sequences, strong language and nudity)

Movie Review: Maria (Watts) Henry (McGregor), Lucas (Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) are a family spending their 2004 Christmas in Thailand. Their lives are devastated after a major tsunami hits Southeast Asia on Dec. 26. The family must survive amidst chaos, dangers, and the humanity that binds them to others also affected by the tsunami.

Based on a true story, this is a 2012 Oscar-nominated screenplay. It is an exceptional film, one of the most touching screenplays. It impresses continuously, but it resides on emotional sentiment more than continued genius.

“Impossible” easily moves from an energetic survival story to a touching piece showing humanity at some of its better moments. It is a display of bravery, compassion and kindness.

Watts, McGregor and Holland are superb. Watts is always brilliant as an actress. “Mulholland Drive” (2001) and “21 Grams” (2003) are notables for her. Her great attribute is her ability to make herself tangible as a character. She accomplishes that and more as Maria.

McGregor shines as a father facing dire consequences. A crying scene with him is one of the most touching.

Tom Holland is especially talented. He easily rivals his adult co-stars in this, his second movie role. His scenes with Watts are some of the best cinematic moments.

While a great film, “Impossible” does have its detractions. The film plays as almost two movies. One is with Watts and Holland, and the other is with McGregor, Joslin and Pendergast. The mixture does not play well at the beginning. The scenes do not merge until nearly the conclusion, almost an hour and a half into this drama. On one hand, this is brilliant. It makes one wonder what is happening to the other half of the family. It puts viewers in the same mode as those having survived this tragedy — wondering if a family member survived, too.

Along this same train of thought, the film can also irritate because it leaves one pondering too much about what is happening about certain members of the cast. Also, the two seeming halves of “Impossible” are uneven. The scenes with Watts and Holland are greater moments, making the other half appear lesser.

 Moreover, the producers of this film should have said it is an adaptation of a true story. The real family that serves as a basis for this plot is Spanish, and they were in Japan. Director Bayona (“The Orphanage,” 2007), a Spanish filmmaker, perhaps saw casting an English family as a means to obtain a larger world audience in major markets. Notably, the actual family agreed to the changes.

These detractions do not take away this solid drama’s momentum to remain an emotive story. Combine that with neat, realistic visuals and solid performances from a skilled cast, and this drama is impressive. Audiences should find every moment riveting.    

Grade:  B+ (The possible achieved.)

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