A critic who has far more jurisdiction than me quoted “If The Impossible doesn’t make you cry, then you need to get your eyes checked.” I take these words wholeheartedly, for this is one of the most intense movies that I have ever seen.
This movie tells the true story of Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor), a married couple traveling to Thailand with their children for some rest and relaxation. Needless to say, that is not what they get when the infamous tsunami separates the family. Maria is left at a makeshift hospital with her eldest son, Lucas. (Tom Holland) Henry sends the other two children to safety while he searches for Maria and Lucas. Along the way, they come across other families who are trying to regain hope after the tsunami.
This movie creates a true feeling of suspense throughout. The opening scenes accurately create the feeling of being on vacation, and you don’t ever want these scenes to end. But once the tsunami hits, (in a stunning VFX scene) the movie becomes multiple fights for survival. Each member of the family has a story to tell, and we feel sorry for them. But I do have to mention that Naomi Watts, who is getting major awards buzz for her performance, is actually hospitalized for the majority of the film. She doesn’t even get as much screen time as you may expect. In fact, the person who has the most screen time in this movie is Tom Holland, who is the true star of the picture. Don’t get me wrong, Watts is very good in the screen time that she gets, but as far as actresses or child actors go, Quvenzhane beats them both.
But does Watts’ lack of screen time matter in the long run? Not really. The star of the movie is the family itself. As I said, this movie has the most suspense I’ve ever seen, and the directing by J.A. Bayona is flat out perfect. But, just as all cakes need icing, no movie is complete without some help in the craft categories. The craft that sticks out to me the most, oddly enough, is makeup. It sounds strange, but the constant weariness and injuries of the characters not to mention a hospitalized Watts look incredibly realistic. The incredible sound also deserves a mention, keeping the same tone from the loud wave to the quiet aftermath.
Throw in some score, editing, and a darn good screenplay to boot, and you’ve got yourself a pretty amazing movie. Just take my advice and don’t watch it without a hanky. Or a stuffed animal, as the case may be.