Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Impossible

I watched The Impossible on the plane ride home from Germany last month. I was alarmed by how much I liked it. Airplane movies are not really something you ever like, you know? It's even more surprising considering that you might think The Impossible is a movie that needs a big screen and surround sound to really make an impact. It's a quasi-disaster movie after all, right?

Wrong. The Impossible is a story of a family, first and foremost. If you watch this movie because you want to see amazing scenes of the tsunami hitting the beach, well, you will get some of that but you will also be missing the point. This is a movie that goes small almost every time you would expect it to go big. I'm reminded of a scene midway through the movie. A young boy is sitting around a makeshift fire with other displaced survivors, including a very old woman. They talk together about what has happened and their missing family members, among other things, and at one point, referring to the stars whose light he can still see shining, the boy says, quietly, "They're all dead, aren't they?" In 99 out of a 100 other movies, you would expect the music to swell and the woman to lose her composure and start sobbing and the movie would make it totally obvious that oh my gosh, how TRAGIC, that boy is talking about his family and not even the stars!!!

Instead, The Impossible does...none of those things. Thinking back on that scene, I'm not sure the boy was talking about his family. But the movie leaves that open for you to think about and decide. There are plenty of other scenes like this - they go small when you think they'll go big - but I don't want to ruin anything by describing them.

The movie's subtlety is helped along immensely by the fantastic acting on the part of everyone. Naomi Watts is ostensibly the star of the movie, but I thought the actor who played her oldest son really stole the show. And the younger brothers are amazing, too!

However, this movie is rated PG-13 for a reason. The version I saw on the plane was pretty smooth, and I figured that not much had been cut out. When I watched the unedited version with Jeremy, though, I realized that there were a few graphic (though not gratuitous) moments that had been removed from the airplane edit. I am making sure to mention this because I recommended this movie to my SIL before I saw the full version and I may have told her that there was nothing very scary in it. That is, uh, not true of the unedited version, mmmkay? Just so you know.

Still, this is one of the most uplifting and life-affirming movies I've watched in a long time. I highly recommend it.


Suzanne Bubnash said...

I watched The Impossible last night. It conveyed the terror and anguish that one family, and probably many others, experienced in the wake of the tsunami. I've read that the woman on whom Naomi Watts's role was based had a hand in the making of the film, which leads me to assume most of it is accurate.

One criticism I read about the film is that it ignored the plight of the natives who lost not only lives but livlihoods, homes, villages. The movie was about this European family, yet in my opinion it did a very fair job of giving credit to the locals. They were out combing for survivors in horrible conditions, treating tourists as diligently as they did their own families. I recall news reports at the time praising the good folks who did all they could for the tourists. The Thai government did their best to move the horribly injured to hospitals in major cities for the best possible care.

The scenes depicting the tsunami conveyed the horror of the experience. How the survivors will ever be normal is beyond me.

Bridget said...

Yeah, I heard that criticism as well and I understand where it's coming from. But this is not that movie. It tells a different story. I thought one of the best scenes was where the mom is given a shirt by some of the locals. It's probably 40 seconds long but it was so moving.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

It was moving. Brought tears to my eyes. That is one of the scenes that sets this film above your ordinary disaster movie. The movie is not sensational, but demonstrates humanity between cultures. And that includes when she and her son (no spoilers) see the little boy alone. That one action changed her son forever.

Mikael said...

I LOVED this movie! However, I was a little dissapointed how through this entire tragedy this family went through not one prayer was shown (or that I remember). I kept thinking that it was God that brought them together and I am sure there were angels all around that family during this aweful event. This miracle would have never come to pass without Gods hands! But not once was God thanked or did they ask God for help (in the movie at least)... that was my one dissapointment. Other than that, LOVED this miracle of a story!!!


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