At the Movies - The Impossible - review

Naomi Watts, (left).
Naomi Watts, (left).

The most striking aspect of J.A. Bayona’s ‘The Impossible’ is that conveys brilliantly how one second in time can change a person’s life forever.

There’s a scene about half way through the movie that translates how something which was deemed trivial a few hours ago, such as making a phone call, can become thunderously poignant, emotional and heart breaking. The scene in question is a great example of acting at its best.

Ewan McGregor in 'The Impossible'.

Ewan McGregor in 'The Impossible'.

‘The Impossible’ is based on the real life story of a Spanish couple and their three sons who felt the full impact of the Indian Ocean tsunami which killed more than 230,000 people on Boxing Day 2004.

Although the film is Spanish made and directed by up-and-coming Spanish director, J.A. Bayona (‘The Orphanage’), the production company in charge opted to replace the Spanish family with an English one.

Playing the part of Maria Belon Alvarez is British-Australian actress, Naomi Watts (‘21 Grams’ and ‘King Kong’) and taking on the role of Maria’s husband, Quique Alvarez, is Ewan McGregor (‘Trainspotting’ and ‘Ghost’).

Watts and McGregor are forces to be reckoned with in the film and if that wasn’t enough then there’s the emergence of 16 year-old British actor, Tom Holland, as the couple’s eldest son Lucas.

It’s thoroughly gripping to watch how Holland’s Lucas goes from an irksome and awkward pre-tsunami teenager to one with the wherewithal to fight for his family’s survival after the tsunami hits.

Watts and McGregor are perfectly cast in the roles of adoring and loving parents Maria and Henry and both get their chances to act and act they do!

McGregor has shrugged off the disappointment of Steve Soderbergh’s 2011 offering ‘Haywire’ to give what has to be one of the best performances of his acting career to date.

It’s bizarre to say that I enjoyed watching a movie that deals with death and despair but it’s because of McGregor, Watts and Holland that I was never never without hope - the family’s love for one another feels real and heartfelt.

Watts’ acting performance is just as impressive if not a little better. The powers that be in Hollywood clearly agree as she’s been nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress.

Natural disasters sometimes tend to be overly dependent on special effects and this sometimes comes at the expense of good acting performances and a good script - this is not the case here.

The ten minute long sequence of the tsunami hitting the exotic Thai holiday resort, where the family are residents, is outstanding.

Bayona knew that in order for the film to work he had to leave cinema-goers gob smacked with such a sequence and as a result he poured over it for almost a full year.

It’s so breathtaking and altogether awesome that after the scene is over, the plight of each and every character in the film is totally convincing which in turn forces the audience to care - this is down to the brilliant writing of Sergio G. Sánchez (‘The Orphanage’).

Meanwhile, the nominations for the 2013 Oscars were revealed by actress Emma Stone and ‘Family Guy’ creator and director of ‘Ted’, Seth McFarlane in Hollywood on Thursday.

In typical awards season fashion, many of the films nominated for Best Picture Oscar have yet to be released here yet but it was no surprise to see Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ receive 12 nominations.

It was very disappointing to see that there was no place for Ben Affleck on the list of nominations for Best Director.

Affleck’s ‘Argo’ was one of the most impressive films of 2012 and his omission adds strength to the theory that the Academy like to play it safe.

Whilst ‘Skyfall’ did receive five Oscar nominations it failed in its attempt to be nominated for best picture, director, supporting actor or actress.

‘Skyfall’ is easily the best James Bond movie to date and there’s no reason why it should not compete against films like ‘Lincoln’ and Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’.

Are the Oscars for safe movies and snobs? Surely not...

Verdict: 4/5 - Chocolate box movie, ‘The Impossible’, is not. It’s a no holes barred look at the real life experience of one family as they find themselves caught up in the Indian Ocean tsunami on Boxing Day in 2004. It’s a remarkably well told story and the performances given by Watts, McGregor and new comer Holland are top class.