Suffering reveals who you really are. In The Impossible, we see the heart of a family in the most extraordinary kind of suffering imaginable. A film that could have easily been a special effects display and melodramatic affair instead chooses to reflect on humanity and remind us of what is truly important in life, taking care of those we love and also those in our immediate proximity who we can lend a hand to.
The film is the true story of a family of five that is vacationing in Thailand for Christmas in 2004. The day after Christmas their beautiful beach vacationing takes a horrifying turn when the Indian Ocean Tsunami slams into their resort. The family is torn apart by the wave, and they are left in the destruction, trying to survive and hoping to see their loved ones again.
The mother, Maria, (a brilliant performance by Naomi Watts) and her eldest son Lucas (standout Tom Holland) are washed far inland. The father, (notoriously underrated Ewan McGregor) and the two youngest boys are left close the resort. Neither group knows the status of the other; both are left with hard decisions to make.
This is director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) English language debut, and he displays his balanced command between visuals, storytelling, and drawing out authentic performances from his actors. The film focuses on the family, but also you get a glimpse into the lives of everyone they come in contact with. Living in a world where it seems so many tragedies are man-made and display the worst humanity has to offer, The Impossible gives us a glimpse into the beautiful love and care that is displayed when all hope seems lost. If I had seen this before the New Year it would definitely have made my top 10 list.
It takes a great movie to examine something so heartbreaking and horrific, only to leave with a sense of hope and optimism. I walked out feeling blessed to have my family and friends close, to know that our love is as strong as the family’s in the film; that we wouldn’t stop searching until we found one another; that we help others along the way, if it’s the last thing we did.