Talk About Working Hard for that Oscar Nom!
THE IMPOSSIBLE (2012/IN THEATERS) Based on a true story, this film presents the harrowing experience of one family who happened to be vacationing in Thailand when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit. While the real life family is Spanish, in the film they are British and enjoying a Christmas beach holiday. The tsunami, as you may remember, hit with literally no warning on December 26th (Boxing Day) when the Thai beaches were overflowing with European tourists, many of whom died. The event is depicted in an incredibly realistic fashion…and it is truly horrifying. As the movie opens, we meet Maria (Naomi Watts) and her husband Henry (Ewan McGregor), who are flying in with their three boys: Lucas (Tom Holland), the oldest at 10 years; Thomas (Samuel Joslin), the middle child, a bit of a whiner, is 7 1/2; and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast), the youngest, is 5. We see the family as they arrive at their beachfront hotel, which looks lovely and boasts a nice swimming pool. Christmas arrives, presents are opened and everything is going great until tragedy strikes—and it strikes so quickly and so devastatingly. If you’ve seen the preview, you’ll remember the wave hitting as the family is enjoying their morning in the pool. The impact is unreal…with water destroying everything in its path. When we finally see Maria again, she is holding onto a palm tree for dear life. Amazingly she sees Lucas floating by and begins to yell for him and to swim toward him. The two eventually manage to pull themselves out of the waters, though by this time, Maria has been stabbed deeply in both her leg and chest by a sharp plant and is bleeding, while both are beat up by the debris that swirled in the tsunami waters. Luckily a group of local individuals transport them to the nearest hospital—which is itself a chaotic scene of injured and lost individuals.
Meanwhile, Henry has found the two youngest boys and is desperately searching for Lucas and Maria—we feel his growing panic. The bulk of the film actually deals with the miracle of uniting all five members of this family and of the increasingly desperate condition of Maria—an incredible story and the telling of it is extremely well done. Kudos to Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) and to Sergio Sanchez, who created the screenplay which is based on Maria Belon’s story — thankfully she survived to tell her tale. Naomi Watt’s strong and realistic portrayal of Maria has been nominated for a serious trifecta: an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a SAG Award. Good for her, I say, and well deserved. But my personal favorite actor in the movie is young Tom Holland (Lucas) who has already been nominated for a number of “break through” awards. Let’s watch for more from this talented young man.