Having expanded to most major theaters on Jan. 4, “The Impossible” has primed Naomi Watts as Oscar bait. Unfortunately for the rest of the cast and crew, “The Impossible” is extremely difficult to watch and Watts suffers the most on screen, thereby she has received the most attention. Many will find her extreme agony compelling, but I found the tugging of the heartstrings too personal for such a historic tragedy.
At the very end of 2004, tsunamis struck Southeast Asia following an earthquake. On their Christmas vacation at a fancy resort, a wealthy family is torn apart when the disaster occurs. Maria (Naomi Watts) and her son Lucas (Tom Holland) are swept up in the current and battered against all matters of debris. Maria has serious injuries and must receive medical attention immediately while Lucas is torn between concern for his mother and sadness at the thought of losing his father (Ewan McGregor) and his two younger brothers (Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast).
My major problem with the film is that it is about one family’s struggle and ignores the natural disaster’s attack on multiple nations. These people are not the norm and are only the focus because of the positive family drama that occurs. Sure, a few moments are taken to show truckloads of the dead, but this is very clearly their story; multiple people are encountered but all sympathy is directed to this one family.
The only perspective portrayed is that of rich, white tourists that still have a home to return to as soon as they are able. Their story is probably one of the only stories of hundreds of thousands that experienced the tsunami that one can say ends with hope and happiness. The tragedy is beautifully captured for the white perspective, but watching a natural disaster from a tourist’s perspective makes me feel, like these tourists, that we endure a tragedy for the length of the film and get to go home, too.
“The Impossible” is easily one of the most difficult movies I have ever watched. In a realistic presentation, it is torturous and uncomfortable as viewers watch as Maria is literally shredded by debris. The majority of the film maintains tension and terror, forcing you not to look away but horrifying at what you see. I am not partial to the imageless shots to heighten the intensity of being lost like the characters or the underwater shots of the injuries, but they set the tone and maintain the adrenaline.
You will feel like you’ve survived a trauma if you make it through the entire drama. Even with my dissatisfaction at the limited view of this enormous disaster, “The Impossible” is a completely absorbing and intense tearjerker.
Rating for “The Impossible:” C+
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“The Impossible” is playing at the major theaters of Columbus: Rave Polaris and Grove City, AMC Easton and Lennox, and Marcus Crosswoods and Pickerington. For showtimes, click here.