English Title: The Impossible
Original Title: Lo imposible
Language: English, Thai
Genre: Drama, History
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Sergio G. Sánchez
Naomi Watts just seized her second Oscar nomination (ended with an inevitable lose though) in this tsunami catastrophe survival drama which happened in South Asia 2004. Directed by Spanish young director Juan Antonio Bayona (yes, it is a Spanish production in spite of its mainly English-speaking cast), which marks his comeback after the internationally-accoladed debut THE ORPHANAGE (2007), an ingeniously orchestrated horror-fest.
The film’s first half is a lip-smacking triumph not only for the special visual effects simulating the walls of water and its overwhelming impact, it’s like HEREAFTER (2010) meets 127 HOURS (2010), vividly renders a kindness of faithful vicariousness on viewers through the white-knuckle self-salvage from the mother-son dyad. And if HEREAFTER could nab an Oscar nomination for BEST VISUAL EFFECTS, THE IMPOSSIBLE easily trumps it. But for the second half, the storytelling adopts a middle-of-the-road sentimentality, it is all about the reunion, still, there is a remarkable achievement for the editing team (and the cinematography group as well) to interlace Watts’ flashbacks under the water with the operation she is undergoing, which is done with an eye-opening flourish.
Adapted from a true event, from one hand, it affirmatively obviates the barbs like what’s the odds the entire family (one couple with 3 son, age 12, 7 and 5 respectively) could pull through the calamity, it is a genuine miracle literally had happened (as far as the denouement concerned), so just deal with it! But from the other hand, the film shamefully sacrifices the accuracy for the sake of the emotional climax, which is a prerequisite for selling the tickets I suppose, and it worked (my eyes swelled with tears for many occasions), even simultaneously there is a tint of bathos ascending when the five of them finally find each other altogether at one place one time, it is so lame!
Anyway, the film is also a victory for the cast, although Watts is bedridden for half of her time on screen, her hard-earned Oscar nomination is well-deserved, an impeccable endeavor out of the mundanity of her character (a woman try to survive under a dire circumstance). Tom Holland, the true leading man and great discovery from the film as the eldest son, has a stunning resemblance of a young Jamie Bell (what a coincidence, Tom was actually had a stint in BILLY ELLIOTS the musical to play the titular role in 2008, and call it sexism, academy never nominates teenage actors for their leading roles), most of the time he is the audience’s proxy, we see through his eyes, his precocity and gallantry dominates the most chunk of the film’s narrative and it has been executed unimpeachably. Ewan McGregor, absent for a disturbingly long time in the film, can only descend himself in a supporting part, he is a consistent great player in the race who is unfortunately always falling under the Oscar radar by only a notch, his cellphone-calling scene should be inscribed in every Oscar voter’s mind, so next time, his glory will be duly justified. Also, the great Geraldine Chaplin, delivers the punchline “the impossibility of death stars” in her unforgettable cameo.
Juan Antonio Bayona has warranted his craftsmanship in dealing with spectacular sensations, so Hollywood might beckon him to their wonderland, even if not, I daresay the next big thing is on the rising.
ps, I guess Seth MacFarlane did see this film since apart from MULHOLLAND DR. (2001) we also saw your boobs here, Naomi, but this time we are in a rueful mood.