Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
Sergio G. Sánchez (screenplay)
Running Time: 114 minutes
I’ve struggled for the longest time with finding a format that I can follow when writing reviews. I’m happy to say that I’ve finally found that format, and it’s called a 5 Course Review. An Italian dinner consists of five components, or courses. Not every meal contains all five courses, but many do. You’ll see that I’ve broken down each of those courses, with an explanation of what each course will provide. In addition, I’ve given a brief explanation of what the actual course is in the course of an Italian meal. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it will allow me the opportunity to put my voice to most of the movie I see.
The Antipasto = Synopsis
Translated into English means ‘before the meal’; otherwise known as the appetizer
To most, December 26th is the day after Christmas; however to a host of others it’s the anniversary of the 2004 tsunami that hit Southeast Asia becoming one of the most lethal natural disasters in history. The Impossible is the fictional account of how one family’s winter vacation is interrupted by the horrific event, and the impossible odds they faced in their struggle for survival.
The Primo = Acting/Directing
Typically a pasta dish served as the first course, but not as the main meal; rice, polenta, soup or an other option can also be substituted
As Henry and Maria Belon, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor give two of the most emotional performances I’ve seen in a long time. Watts’ and McGregor’s distraught appearances, protective reactions and pure range of emotions felt genuine and precise. The pair gives performances that deserve to be recognized come awards season, and surely they will be. The feeling of being a helpless parent unable to find a spouse or a child is an unenviable position to be in. As a parent, I can’t even begin to imagine what I would do if I were in that. I’d like to think I’d find the inner strength to respond and react in similar fashion, doing whatever was necessary to ensure my children’s survival and fine my family before worrying about my own.
In addition to the film’s leads, the actors that portray the Belon boys are equally impressive and the trio do not take a backseat to their onscreen parents. As the older son Lucas, Tom Holland just about steals the film, giving a performance that is both heart wrenching and heart breaking. Samuel Joslin (Thomas) and Oaklee Pendergast (Simon) play the younger two siblings and may not be on-screen for lengthy periods, but the boys were more than effective and played their parts in a way I can only describe as beautiful, even at their incredibly young ages. It’s often said that child actors are some of the most difficult people to work with, but when their abilities far exceed their youth, we as an audience are able to reap the rewards.
I’m sure there aren’t many people who have heard of Juan Antonio Bayona since the few films he’s made consist of 3 short films, 4 videos and 2007s The Orphanage; I’m one of those people. If The Impossible is any indication, we’ll be seeing a lot more from the Spanish director. Bayone displays a remarkable ability to recreate the havoc and devastation that engulfed the region, and does an equally impressive job of effectively reenacting the terrifying predicament that the Belon family endured both physically and emotionally. Bayone may not get a directing nomination, but there’s no doubt that his film deserves recognition.
The Impossible is a ‘disaster film’ in every sense of the term. The thing that separates The Impossible from Towering Inferno and Earthquake is that the actual disaster part of the film only runs about 10 minutes. Unlike most blockbuster films that are (over)done with loud explosions, massive sets and seem to last 2 hours, the tsunami sequence is gripping and beyond realistic. I almost felt like I was watching live coverage of the tragedy as it was taking place, and my heart pounded in my chest as the disaster was happening; that’s pretty damn effective.
As visual stunning as the tsunami sequence is, hearing the wind right before it hits and then the crashing waves hitting are what makes it so effective. Throughout the ordeal, listening to the gurgles under water, the gasps for breath, and branches piercing skin was enough to make me grit my teeth numerous times. As unpleasant as it looks, it’s made all the worse hearing everything as it takes place.
It’s a difficult thing to say a movie like The Impossible is stunning, but it’s also an injustice not to say it. So many people were affected by the disaster that the aerial shots provide a small idea of exactly how bad things must have been and it is truly stunning.
The Secondo = My thoughts
A fairly simple main course consisting of chicken, meat or fish; especially if preceded by a rich pasta or rice dish. The portion sizes are generally small.
Imagine the scene early on in Meet Joe Black when Brad Pitt’s character gets obliterated by the bus; however, instead of a bus it’s an onslaught of the Indian Ocean smashing through resorts, villages, hospitals and who knows what else… now multiply the number of people blindsided by this even by hundreds of thousands….it’s a scary thing to think about, isn’t it? I full expected The Impossible to be an emotional film, but what I didn’t expect was to affected by the event…only the tragedies after the event. I’m a sensitive guy and most that know me, know that I tend to get emotional at most movies I see. It took a mere 10 minutes, coincidentally enough about how long it took before the tsunami hit and had caused irreparable damage, before I was in tears. We may not all be parents, but we all have had someone that’s cared for us and loved us as young children. Imagine being on vacation with that person, either as the adult or as the child, and imagine having them ripped from your arms by something there’s no way to prepare for.
Prior to seeing the film I’d read a few places that a few people had issues with the fact that the film was about a vacationing British family (the actually family the film is based on is Mexican), when there were plenty of stories to be told about the people native to the area. Although I understand where those issues were coming from, I think the film is done in excellent taste and is in no way disrespectful. In actuality, the feeling that I got from the movie was one of being impressed. That an area without an abundance of wealth was able to rally together and help in any way possible, regardless of race, nationality and/or skin color. I think it’s a true testament of the human race, and example of the good in people.
The Dolce – my grade
A sweet end to a traditional Italian meal
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