The Impossible tells the story of one family’s extraordinary ordeal in the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004.
Starting out with the slow fade to black of the words based on a TRUE STORY Director Juan Antonio Bayona’s film never seems to truly get away from its predictable real life restrictions; but credit is earned for taking a constrained story and applying enough artistic flair to capture the exotic Thai paradise and a later trance like passage as Noami Watts’ mother battles her horrendous injuries.
The capturing of the cataclysmic wave is deliberately intimate and terrifying, avoiding the temptation to overuse grandstanding shots; with the full destructive power demonstrated close up there is no shying away from graphic injuries to drive home what must have truly been a truly horrific experience.
Telling the most part of the separated Watts and eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) works to tie the bond between the two, as Watts deteriorates, Holland puts in a strong performance for his years to courageously help other victims.
The subsequent shift to show Dad’s (Ewan McGregor) efforts to somehow reunite his family often gets painfully tantalising in passages of so near and yet so far and difficult choices that spread the family further afield.
The further attention given to others victims tends to dilute the intimate focus on the McGregor Family but serves to effectively portray the wider damaging events and the heart-breaking plight of the many isolated and orphaned children of the disaster.
There is a slightly disconnected feel with varying levels of quality, believable acting and somehow, in all the drama and the high emotion, the cast overall fall just short of delivering a truly convincing play on the real trauma; Though The Impossible is still a respectful and effective telling of a very worthwhile story.