My number 11 film of 2012 places an intense spotlight on an unforgiving destructive force of nature. This recreation of a specific 2004 nightmare staggered my sensibilities, but one particular family's unfiltered portrayal delivered the most challenging and emotional moments.
11. “The Impossible” - A family living abroad in Japan decides to vacation on a gorgeous piece of real estate, The Orchid Beach Resort, on the coast of Thailand for the 2004 Christmas holiday.
With powdery beaches, lanky palm trees, blue ocean, warm sunshine, and all the creature comforts of luxury, this particular place just might be heaven drawn up on Earth.
For Henry (Ewan McGregor) and Maria (Naomi Watts), the pressure of raising their three young boys and climbing social and financial ladders simply melts away during lazy afternoons and comfortable evenings in paradise.
Of course, director Juan Antonio Bayona’s film doesn’t chronicle a beautiful relaxing visit to a remote place on the planet.
Instead, he tells the horrific tale one of the most brutal natural disasters in history, the infamous 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Bayona pulls off a complicated special effects disaster picture of grand scales and explosive consequences, while also capturing the personal true story of the Belon family and their unfortunate experience.
On a routine morning, a far away, but massive, earthquake triggers a deadly tsunami, and with only seconds of warning, a destructive set of waves smashes into the beach and tries to pulverize everything in its path.
Poolside during the fateful moments, Maria and her oldest son, Lucas (Tom Holland), become separated from Henry and the two younger boys, Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast).
Lucas assumes the worst, and Maria is too physically injured to process such thoughts of her husband and two boys.
So, they push on amongst the smashed homes, twisted trees, suddenly swampy fields, dead animals, and human beings.
The film exceeds on two levels. The convincing visuals jolt the audience and knock us silly, but it’s the extended denouement which delivers the biggest body blow to our psyche.
"The Impossible" is a gut-wrenching picture, and it pulls and yanks at your emotions like taffy.
I probably spent about half of the film with my hand over my mouth in horror or sorrow over the devastation placed on countless hopeless families.
I certainly cannot recommend parents taking their children to “The Impossible”, but after seeing the film, you might feel the urge to run home, open the door and hold your family close.
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