Thursday, 3 January 2013

The Impossible | Cinema Review

On December 26th, 2004 the world witnessed a natural disaster that shook millions. From that moment on, our thoughts were with those who were involved, those whose lives were either shattered or flipped entirely, but here, safe and unharmed, we truly couldn't understand the harm, the chaos and the sheer terror it caused -- and is still very much alive. The Impossible, the latest from director J. A. Bayona, gives an impossible insight into said disaster, one that packs a heavy punch.

Naomi Watts & Tom Holland star in The Impossible
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as two English-speaking tourists amidst the terror, basing their characters on true-life Spanish survivors whose life-altering experience in Thailand is documented through the eyes of a director whose greatest care is taken to create the idealistic, most absolute realistic and heart-pounding experience, not to purposely upset or traumatise but to remain faithful to an experience that's undoubtedly just that. The parents and their three children are among thousands thrown into the mix, grasping for their very lives amongst debris and a land literally turned upside down.

The sun-blazened beaches and pristine, glistening oceans are the idealistic holiday vacation for the family. Over Christmas it's their most desired getaway, and it's understandable. The moment the wave hits, however, nothing is desirable, nothing is expected, and Bayona nails this right on the head. Frantic and ultimately terrifying, the sight is astounding, the tension palpable and the moment feels instantly real. Watts' battered, bruised and intensely bloodied face accompanies a dozen piercing shrieks, and they appear real, not at all idealised as a mere work day; Holland, playing the eldest of three sons, is a shattered, scared little boy, but at the same time steps up to the plate and defends his weakened mother, protecting her and hurtling himself through debris to reach her. The performances of these two are astounding, immediately hooked upon their heavy descent into a life primarily fixated upon survival. It's raw and deeply emotional, made all the more effective with the relationship of these two stars; it's truly, undoubtedly and impossibly brilliant.

McGregor, on the other hand, is drenched, head to toe, in blood, cuts are in their dozens, topless. He doesn't care of his current position, all he cares for is of his family and the two that are currently not by his side. An unrelenting, heartbreaking desire to find them ensues. This side of the film carries a weight unparalleled, one that is a consistent force throughout The Impossible, and one that is an undeniable power that carries the film extensively. A performance almost as great as Watts and Holland, but by his own right, one that's still as real as they get.

Bayona's ability to maintain a tightness between his characters ably enforces the emotion, focusing on their pain and their tears, eschewing a realistic survivalist within them. Balancing between this and a frightening panoramic view of the obliterated landscape shakes you to your very core, reducing the film to either emotionally breaking you or unsettling you completely. Either or, it's a magnificently horrifying anti-horror movie with a realistic backbone, executed with ease and the upmost care.

Verdict: This is an emotionally-draining experience, but it's also one of the most deserving depictions of a real-life disaster in movie history. Watts, bedridden for a hefty duration, gives the performance of her career, whilst Holland, a newcomer, is on due course for stardom. A must-see.

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