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27 January 2013

The Impossible (Review): "Electrifying Watts"

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Naomi Watts made “The Impossible” work. Her performance elevated a role that could easily become melodramatic and trite.  Any female actor can play the part of survivor of a natural calamity, and there have been countless disaster movies, most of which also ended in disaster, certainly not the box office catastrophe but the other kind. Disaster movies are dime a dozen and they often reel in the big bucks, but in terms of performance, very few disaster movies become award worthy. 

Naomi Watts succeeds in bringing to the screen the real horror of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that hit the coast of Thailand.  Her scream while she held on to a coconut tree is outstanding.  You really feel how terrifying it must have been.  Watts screams and moans are piercing that moviegoers cringe every time she makes a sound.  Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona was smart enough to maximize Watts’ presence, specifically in the first part of the film. Without Watts engaging performance, the latter part of the film would have suffered. 

Left: Director J.A. Bayona. Right: Tom Holland
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Credit is also due to director Bayona for shying away from the usual Hollywood narrative (although not entirely). 

It is also interesting to note that the characters were made British than Spanish, considering the story was based on the real experiences of a Spanish family. The reason for the changes is left for us critics to ponder. Still, the movie captures the central core of family love that transcend ethnicity.  

The film also boasts of an ensemble cast led by Ewan McGregor and the child actors who played his children.  Most notably, Tom Holland’s performance as the oldest child, Lucas, is at par with Watts’ and McGregor’s.  At certain parts of the film, Holland was the central figure and the audience hooked on his performance.  We look forward seeing this young actor mature and perhaps become the next great English actor.

With excellent special effects, great performances and good direction, it impossible not to like “The Impossible.” [First Published in "The Chair" Blog]

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