January 24, 2013
"The Impossible" was a true-to-life family drama set during the disastrous 2004 tsunami in Thailand. It was heart-pounding to see the gigantic devastating wave rise up so unexpectedly and heart-wrenching to see it completely destroy an entire unsuspecting town. The director did not spare us from the gory things that happen under the rampaging waters, where the humans (particularly, Naomi Watts) get seriously wounded with the various debris that hit them underwater.
We follow a family of five who miraculously survives the disaster. At first we only see the mom Maria (Naomi Watts), then her eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland). As Maria was taken to the hospital to treat her serious leg injury and Lucas looks after her, we see that her husband Henry and two younger sons also survive with minor injuries. Following a suspenseful series of near misses in the hospital, the family, and the audience, were rewarded with a gloriously touching, inevitably tear-jerking reunion scene.
I do not really understand why Naomi Watts is getting the lions' share of the awards buzz, even getting an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. In fact, young Tom Holland deserves it more with numerous difficult scenes he had to do when Naomi was already rendered bedridden by her severe injuries. Ewan McGregor was no slouch as well, but he had limited screen time compared to Naomi and Tom.
I thought that this film was too long, despite the fact that the tidal wave already struck within the first 10 minutes of the running time. We do not really know the central family that well. There were several scenes that seemed repetitive and just added on to prolong the basic story, or to heighten drama, like Naomi's slow-motion surfacing from the water scene. Apart from a few winning scenes, as a whole the film is, unfortunately, also water-logged.