The Impossible | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Impossible 

Raw, remarkably harrowing

Pin It
Favorite
click to enlarge The Impossible
  • The Impossible

Yes: There are fair reasons to be frustrated with The Impossible, director Juan Antonio Bayona’s fact-based account of a European family trying to survive the devastating tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in December 2004. But I’m not going to pretend that I was even thinking about them during most of the first hour, when the film turned me into a raw nerve of tension.

There’s only a token attempt at setting up the characters of Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons as they take a Christmas vacation in Thailand. But soon they’re separated by the unimaginable wall of water—Maria managing to find the oldest boy, Lucas (Tom Holland), while Henry and the two younger boys are nowhere to be seen.

The portion focusing on Maria’s attempts to survive with Lucas is remarkably harrowing, Bayona employing both roaring sound and sudden silence to keep viewers unsettled and disoriented. The trials of those two characters are at times painfully graphic—PG-13 feels like a woefully inadequate rating here—and Holland in particular is terrific as a youngster forced to grow up quickly, and consider the risky humanity in helping someone else when your own survival is still in question.

The Impossible isn’t nearly as powerful once the focus shifts to Henry’s fate, and the family’s variously thwarted attempts at reuniting, which begin to feel unnecessarily manipulative. It’s also the point where you have a moment to remember to breathe and consider the uncomfortable fact that the focus on this particular white family relegates to background figures the millions of native people whose lives were destroyed.

But it’s too viscerally enthralling during that first hour for those concerns to completely overwhelm it. When cinema can fully immerse you in the scope of a tragedy, it’s doing something right.

THE IMPOSSIBLE

3_stars.gif

Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland
Rated PG-13

Twitter: @ScottRenshaw

Pin It
Favorite

Speaking of , ,

More by Scott Renshaw

Latest in Film Reviews

  • Coming of Rage

    Lucas Hedges again captures the essence of troubled youth in Boy Erased.
    • Nov 14, 2018
  • World Gore II

    Overlord commits to bloody battles with Nazis, zombies and zombie Nazis.
    • Nov 7, 2018
  • No, Queen

    The life of Freddie Mercury deserves better than Bohemian Rhapsody's tedious music-biz clichés.
    • Oct 31, 2018
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Kid Stuff

    A lovely child performance anchors the satisfying family drama of Gifted.
    • Apr 12, 2017
  • If You're Going to San Francisco

    Fifty years on, Monterey Pop captures something that was more than a musical moment.
    • Jun 14, 2017

© 2018 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation