Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Impossible Movie

The Impossible Movie 

THE IMPOSSIBLE is the story of a family vacationing in Thailand during the 2004 Christmas tsunami. This is one of the most emotionally difficult films to watch that I have ever seen. The real family was Spanish, as is the writer and director of this film, but this is what I last year referred to as a "Hybrid Foreign Film." The film uses replaces the Spanish family with a British one and english speaking actors so that they can get better marquee value out of the names and a larger audience for the film.

They certainly get the most of the cast. Naomi Watts is amazing and will almost certainly be nominated for an Oscar. Ewan McGregor is also very good but his part is smaller and less demanding. There's a nice cameo by Geraldine Chaplin (Charlie's daughter), but the real star of the show is Tom Holland, the 16-year old actor who plays the oldest son in the family. It will be a travesty if he is not nominated for Best Actor in his first film appearance.

The film is definitely foreign in its style. There are long stretches with no dialog or music. In fact the tsunami hitting the island is told almost exclusively through sound design, until the end when music is added (and a flashback later in the film is told only through subjective sound design). The plot is not linear as one might expect in a Hollywood film. I will not reveal any spoilers but I will say that there are several surprises in the film that are very moving.

The makeup is amazing. Naomi Watts wears almost no makeup in the start of the film (let's see that happen in America) and then after she is injured in the tsunami, all of the makeup effects are completely believable  almost to the point where she is unrecognizable.

This film has a personal connection for me. In December of 2004, when the tsunami struck, I was in the hospital with a case of pneumonia so bad that it almost killed me. On December 24th, the day it hit, I was intubated, and would remain on life support for the next two weeks. Naomi Watts' character in the film is badly injured in the tsunami and needs medical attention badly through much of the film. There were a lot of moments watching her that I felt I was reliving the worst of my times in the hospital. There is something strangely therapeutic and cathartic about this.

Nonetheless I recommend this film to everyone, even though it can be very difficult to watch at times. It is one of the best films I have seen in years.
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