In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd.
It’s hard to forget the events that took place on the 26th December in 2004. An undersea megathrust earthquake rumbled beneath the Indian Ocean and the ensuing tsunami devastated Thailand, Indonesia and many other surrounding regions. As director and writer respectively, Juan Antonio Bayona and Sergio G. Sanchez take audiences back to that horrifying event to present a remarkable account of one family’s experience during the catastrophic tsunami.
Though their nationality is left unspecified within the film, the Spanish couple, aptly performed by Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, and their three young sons are holidaying at an idyllic coastal resort in Thailand. When the tsunami hits and the family are separated their once perfect holiday becomes a nightmare as they embark on an impossible search for each other amidst the mayhem of one of the worst natural disasters ever.
Reunited after their 2007 horror debut The Orphanage, the Spanish duo uses similar horror techniques for their latest film to provide another haunting experience. For their reconstruction the Spanish filmmakers, along with many of the crew from their previous film, combine on-location shooting (many of the locations are true to the story), CGI and sets and models to show the devastating tsunami in a frighteningly realistic manner. The moment the tsunami hits is a masterpiece of disaster cinema, the destructive surge of water is captured powerfully and viscerally that it could already by the most dramatic scene we’ll see this year.
However, Bayona isn’t solely concerned with depicting the physical affects that the tsunami had on one family, but instead maintains belief that by focussing on a few, audiences will understand the story of many. The family’s account is used as a catalyst to show the thousands of people affected by the tsunami and whether it’s the other tourists enjoying this beautiful part of the world during the festive period, or the local population who suffered most, The Impossible brilliantly depicts the widespread destruction the tsunami caused.
The Impossible is a visually stunning, deeply moving and truly harrowing piece of cinema. Not only does it highlight the immediate effects the Boxing Day tsunami had on impact, but its sombre conclusion reinforces the lasting feelings of guilt survivors continue to suffer from.