The Impossible is based on the true story of a family who spent their 2004 Christmas Holidays in Thailand and were swept up in the devastating tsunami. Incredibly, although over 230,000 people were killed, the family of five survived and managed to find one another in the chaotic aftermath.
On Christmas morning Henry (Ewan McGregor) and Maria (Naomi Watts) unwrap their presents with their three boys Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) and then play in the hotel pool, enjoying each others company, leaving all work and money worries behind. Suddenly a rumbling silences the playful laughter and within moments the entire family is swept up into a massive wave of water.
Maria finds herself being tossed and turned by brown murky water until she finally finds herself clinging to a tree screaming for her sons and husband. By some miracle her eldest son Lucas hears her and together they end up in a chaotic hospital with Maria fighting for her life.
Separated from his wife Henry and his two small sons are struggling to come to terms with what has happened. Not willing to give in to despair Henry tries to find Maria and Lucas.
This impossible story makes for a great movie and thankfully director Juan Antonia Bayona and screenwriter Sergio Sanchez opted for a very realistic and gritty approach, there is no Hollywood grandeur or Disney plastic to distract from the emotional story.
However the strength of the film is mostly down to both McGregor and Watts. McGregor as Henry undergoes a very believable transformation from bland tourist to responsible father and husband. In an incredibly emotional scene he delivers a performance of a lifetime when he shows the crippling emotions Henry goes through when calling his wife’s father. Unable to speak and put into words what has happened he breaks down in sobbing tears of grief, fear and overwhelming agony.
Watts as Maria is just as incredible and it is not surprising that her performance is up for an Oscar. Her Maria is strong and caring yet utterly aware of the devastating situation she and her son are in. Struggling to survive she tries not to give in to the pain of her life-threatening injuries and even encourages her son to help as much as he can.
The Impossible is an old fashioned film about pain, devastation and human nature. It doesn’t sugar-coat the horrors of the natural disaster and at times is very vivid in its uncompromising portrayal. But in its center is the triumph of human kind, not diminishing any emotion, be it fear, pain or joy, making The Impossible a rare film and one that you will defiantly need your tissues for.