Oscar nominated actress Naomi Watts

Oscar nominated actress Naomi Watts

Reel Reviews: Watts delivers an Oscar-worthy performance

The Impossible is exactly as devastating and emotional as it need be.

  • Feb. 24, 2013 11:00 a.m.

The Impossible is inspired by the true story of a family swept up into the 2004 tsunami disaster while on vacation in Thailand.

Oscar nominated for her role as Maria, Naomi Watts is the mother of three boys and married to Henry (Ewan McGregor).

The family became separated when the great wave hit their beach-front hotel on Dec. 26. Their tale of survival and loss punctuates a moment of history recorded through hundreds of thousands of similar stories.

To undertake the responsibility of putting it to film is an act of courage. Does it succeed?

We say, “It’s exactly as devastating and emotional as it need be.”

TAYLOR: The Impossible is what you would expect from an expensive film about a tragic natural disaster. It’s well made on all fronts, from director Juan Antonio Bayona to the youngest of the three actors playing the family’s children.

The film sets the characters up to be an ordinary, likeable family and then smashes them apart with a seemingly endless torrent of ocean. From then on, it’s a realistically ugly tale of survival.

HOWE: While watching The Impossible my emotions ran all over the place: happy, sad, angry and hopeful to name just a few. A movie hasn’t touched me like this in a long, long time.

TAYLOR: The film is blunt and graphic. It doesn’t waste any time, nor pull any punches. Like the experience itself, it’s physically and emotionally daunting, terrifying but rewarding. It’s also stirring, sentimental and perhaps a little overly dramatic nearer the conclusion, but I think audiences will forgive the film for its faults, which are minor.

It’s also very well directed. Bayona has made a film that, despite being appropriately harsh, is also clever, artistic and poetic. At one point he cuts from a dead body lying in flooded tall grasses, to a fish gasping on dry land, as if to say, “this place has been ruined for everything.” It’s tragic, beautiful and probably the best film I’ve seen this year.

HOWE: I agree with you there. Some of the scenes of the carnage that Mother Nature can do to us shows just how fragile we really are. I sat there mouth open, wondering how anyone survived something that powerful.

TAYLOR: I urge everyone to see this film at the Towne Theatre. Don’t wait for it at home. On the super gigantic screen at the Towne it’s going to crush you. If you do not cry, you are not human.

HOWE: Well, now you know I’m not really reptilian, because I cried, more than once. It is a fantastic movie with one or two tiny flaws, but I’m not going to complain, even if Ewan McGregor does wander back to his native tongue while playing an Englishman. After watching  Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook, I thought she would win this year’s Oscar, but now after seeing Watts in this, I’m having second thoughts.

— Taylor gives The Impossible 4.5 Watts out of 5.

— Howe gives 4.5 cries out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Towne Cinema in downtown Vernon.

— Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are movie reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears every Friday and Sunday in The Morning Star.