The Impossible / Lo imposible 海嘯奇蹟 (2012) – USA / Spain

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 27th January 2013
In cinemas around Asia in January 2013

Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland

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With all the Oscar buzz and awards nomination surrounding the latest film from Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona (“The Orphanage”), I must be first to admit that I did not understood the hype. Sure, the disaster proceeding and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami sets up an excellent premises in terms of showing the audience the aftermath of such an extravagant human atrocity. However, “The Impossible” feels every bit average, never rising above its own genre conventions and featuring a highly overrated performance from Naomi Watts. Watts is a wonderful actress and have made far better films, namely “Mulholland Drive” and “21 Grams”. Therefore, the performance here is average at best and most certainly not worthy of its Oscar nomination and Golden Globe nominations. Still, “The Impossible” is visually stunning and even manages to portray the terrible aftermath of a disaster with minimal melodrama.

Naomi Watts tries extremely hard to headline the role of a mother and her never give up attitude is to be admired. However, she spend far too many scenes hiding behind hospital live support and pipes and heavily special effects make up, which in turn makes it extremely hard for the audience to relate to her character. There are some scenes where Watts simply shines, including her insistence on saving an unknown kid in the midst of their own danger and also the scene where she sees the shadow of his missing husband (played by Ewan McGregor). Ewan McGregor appears in nothing more than a glorified cameo, but out of the lot, the bulk of the acting is given to kid actor Tom Holland, who simply shines the role of a determined son, learning and growing stronger in he facof adversity. In fact, it is Holland, not Watts or McGregor who holds the film together for most of the duration and emotional core.

All in all, “The Impossible” is not a bad film, but it is just insanely average and it constantly gives the vibe of something we have all seen before. There is nothing new in the latest disaster flick and it does not help when you add in over-hyped performances from Naomi Watts. Still, director Juan Antonio Bayona manages to depict the horrors of a tsunami event and the painful aftermath that the family needs to go through in finding one another, while not knowing whether they are dead or alive. Perhaps, one thing that strikes me is that the film is based on a true story and the fact that the family manages the impossible of locating one another and survives provides some much needed inspiration. There are good things about “the Impossible”, but as a whole, it really isn’t much. (Neo 2013)

I rated it 6/10

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