The Impossible advertises itself as “one family’s incredible true story,” and although that fact is amazingly true, I believe that’s where the film went wrong. There’s nothing specifically wrong with this picture. It’s a beautiful, strong, inventive film that speaks towards the perseverance of the human spirit. Where it fails is in the fact that it’s highly predictable.
The movie relates the true story of the Bennets, a family who is caught in the wake of the 2004 Tsunami. Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGreggor) are taking Christmas vacation with their children, Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas, and Simon when the storm hits, and the family is torn asunder. Maria and Lucas are swallowed whole by the torrent of the flood and land miles away from Henry and the boys.
The film mainly focuses on the character’s efforts to find each other in the chaos of the aftermath of the storm. Emotionally, the characters are driven to nearly indescribable states of physical and emotional pain and beauty, and all the actors capture them exceptionally well. Watts scene’s with Holland are fantastic, and serve as a great starting point for the film. McGreggor has one exceptionally heartrending moment that will bore into the audience’s emotions. All these scenes have their roots firmly planted in the depths of my heart; their performances are emotionally true to the end, and praise must be given. Watts wasn’t nominated for a Academy Award for nothing. The cinematography is equally impressive. Maria and Lucas’ scene on the river is heart-stopping, and will grab instantly.
Where the film falters is in its pacing and storytelling. The film’s climax is strongly predictable, and thus the latter half of the movie loses its feeling of immediacy, which is strongly needed in a disaster genre film. Primarily, I blame the marketing strategy for this fault. Advertising the movie as an “amazing true story” builds up expectations within audiences; they’ll already know what to expect.
But all in all, The Impossible is an entrancing work of art. Bayona does fantastic things with the camera, the actors are brilliant, and it will capture the heart. It’s not as good as it could have been, but it’s still a worthwhile film to experience.