The Impossible [2012]

4starsandahalf (1)


Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
Written by: Sergio G. Sánchez
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, Marta Etura, Sönke Möhring, Geraldine Chaplin

The most intense cinematic experience I’ve had so far. I had never cried for two straight hours, much less with a movie, but there’s always a first time, and it happened with The Impossible.

Contrived? Manipulative? Some will argue that this film is those things; it’s also effective. The devastating, true story about a family caught in the middle of one of the biggest natural disasters of our time, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, is a heartbreaking account of family love and fate triumphing over loss, despair, fear and the immeasurable power of nature.

Juan Antonio Bayona, in only his second feature film, shows a skilled hand at directing The Impossible, adapted by Sergio G. Sánchez from the incredible true story of María Belón and her family. Bayona made a great decision by “recycling” most of the behind-the-camera talent of his previous film, El Orfanato. The score by Fernando Velázquez and the cinematography by Óscar Faura are some of the year’s best.

By now, bravura performances from Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor are something to be expected; they deliver. What helps the film a lot is a fantastic young cast. In small roles, Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast are notable but it’s 16 year-old Tom Holland who shows incredible talent and maturity and steals every scene.

The only impossible thing here is to not be moved.