Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts and Tom Holland
Review Written By: Michael Dalton
The film begins on a black screen, the sound slowly but surely builds up until it is a symphony of terror. I went deeper into my seat and actually became slightly and briefly scared. This is a film, which is best experienced in the biggest and loudest cinema you can find, not just for this opening scene, but also for the entire film, which through a combination of cinematography and sound, places you right in the middle of the terror. The Impossible is a film, which had me consistently audibly reacting in a way that no other film has this year. The Impossible is not an easy or enjoyable watch, hardly recommendable for a Friday night, however it is a film you can’t help but admire for the emotions it draws out of you and the experience it gives you. Akin to Requiem For a Dream, this is one of those films which is fantastic, yet you are hesitant to recommend it to others and watch it again because of just how well it achieves what it sets out to achieve. I fully understand those who do not wish to see it for such reasons and do not like it due to how well it makes you feel the emotions of the characters.
Juan Antonio Bayona directs this film and as of now he deserves to be a part of Oscar conversation. Throughout the early scenes, he is able to create this unsettling mood of impending doom, using lingering shots of the environments and foreboding sound. Given he directed The Orphanage, it is perhaps no surprise that these early moments and the majority of the film, play like a horror movie. When the tsunami does hit, my worry was that the event would be too computer generated, however Bayona recreates the horror in an all too palpable and tangible manner. Avoiding the overuse of sweeping helicopter shots, Bayona sticks with the family the entire time, we experience what they experience, and we know what they know. The Impossible is the closest I want to get, to experiencing a natural disaster first-hand.
I have no shame in admitting this film greatly affected me emotionally and if you have a heart, it is impossible not to be. In films of this sort, it can sometimes seem that the emotion is forced and/or it is overplayed. The musical score in this film never goes to John Williams levels (I love his music but he is an apt example) and you never fell like the film is shoving sentimentality down your throat. Just like its depiction of the disaster and its aftermath, this is a realism driven film. This realism could be damaged by the presence of Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts in the lead roles, Hollywood stars playing people who were in fact a Spanish family. However McGregor and Watts give two of their best performances in recent years, with me not thinking for a second about any aspect of their back catalogue.
The stand out however, is Tom Holland. His phenomenal, mature and believable performance certifies what a great year this has been for child actors. He stands shoulder to shoulder (Metaphorically of course) with the likes of Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward (Moonrise Kingdom), Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and Pierce Gagnon (Looper)
The direction, cinematography, sound and performances all combine in their excellence to result in a grueling yet rewarding cinematic experience. The film is not perfect, and there are certain issues in regards to the balance of screen time and some of the early dialogue, however The Impossible overwhelms you in such a way, that these disappear in the haze of emotions this film instigates. In short, this film left me emotionally exhausted.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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