The Impossible  

An impressive, emotionally gripping disaster film.

The Impossible considers the South Asian tsunami of December 26, 2004, a natural disaster that killed more than 200,000 people. If that doesn't sound like a good time at the movies, well, The Impossible focuses on an ultimately uplifting tale of one family of foreign tourists on one beach in one country affected by the wave.

It's based on the true story of the Belóns from Spain, and the filmmakers and production crew are all Spanish (including director J.A. Bayona). But for the adaptation, they've made the family British.

The Impossible trailer lets you know that the family is spending Christmas at a beach resort in Thailand. When the tsunami hits, the parents and children are separated, with mom Maria (Naomi Watts) and son Lucas (Tom Holland) clinging to one another and dad Henry (Ewan McGregor) and sons Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast) together. Each group doesn't know if the other survives, and, in the post-tsunami chaos, they struggle to find each other. Will they be reunited?

The Impossible is a technically impressive film full of fascinating observations and boasts several terrific performances. The lead-up to the disaster is economical (the wave hits 13 minutes into the film). Characterization is brief but enough to present the Belón family as perfectly ordinary. But, when disaster happens, ordinary people are forced to respond to extraordinary events. There is no villain in the piece.

The center of the film is the wave, a long, harrowing sequence in which Maria and Lucas are violently carried miles inland by the surge. The debris — tree limbs, furniture, cars — is as dangerous as the water itself. The immense power of the tsunami can be physically felt, and Bayona is utterly in command of this material, including gorgeously powerful underwater photography. The script and direction put you in the action: They used real water rather than CGI, it's shot on location in Thailand, and Maria Belón was an adviser on the film, lending considerable authenticity.

Watts is wonderful, and there's physical brilliance in her performance. But the real lead may be Holland, who plays the eldest of the children. Through his eyes we see the full measure of the disaster, from the wave to the surviving, grieving lost to the bureaucracy to the recovery. Holland nails the emotional arc.

The Impossible
Opening Friday, January 11th

Speaking of Naomi Watts

The Impossible
Rated PG-13 · 107 min. · 2012
Official Site:
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Writer: Sergio G. Sánchez
Producer: Javier Ugarte
Cast: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, Marta Etura, Sönke Möhring and Geraldine Chaplin

Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for The Impossible


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • IndieGrants

      Indie Memphis' grant program aims to empower Bluff City filmmakers.
    • The Magnificent Seven

      Denzel Washington rides to the rescue of this by-the-numbers remake.
    • The Birth Of A Nation (2016)

      Actor/director Nate Parker writes history in lightning in this rabble rousing thriller of black liberation


Tiger Blue

AAC Picks: Week 9

Intermission Impossible

Where Do All The Frankie Vallies Come From? Frankie Camp, That's Where.

Music Blog

Jack Oblivian Live at Wiseacre Brewery

Hungry Memphis

A Chubby Vegetarian Dinner Party

Fly On The Wall Blog

Really, Today Show? Graceland? In Nashville?

News Blog

Application Shows New Images of Old Dominick

Beyond the Arc

Game Notebook: Grizzlies 102, Timberwolves 98


More by Greg Akers

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2016

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation