I have to admit that I came out of this one a little battered and bruised. Don’t know if I could have handled much more physical or emotional pain. The true story of what a family went through during and after the 2004 tsunami that hit Thailand the day after Christmas is harrowing. It really illustrates how much the human spirit and body can take when the love of family is involved.
Taking most of the abuse was actress Naomi Watts. For all that she goes through in this role she was awarded a nomination in the Best Actress category. Her performance is incredible on many levels. First of all, physically she is put through the wringer. Her body must have been beat up and bruised for awhile even after filming ended. With all the physical stuff that is asked of her by this role there is also the emotional. She has to “act” through all this. There are plenty of emotions asked of her like motherly love, despair, pain, perseverance, and even grace. Watts has to convey all that this young mother went through in large part with her body and eyes as she was not given a ton of dialogue. A stunning and moving performance that certainly is worthy of the nomination.
Another stand-out performance is turned in by the young actor portraying Lucas – Tom Holland. He has been a stage actor up until this point, but shows that his talent does translate to the screen. It was asked that he waver between determination and vulnerability and he did so with such skill that your heart was breaking for him.
The Bennetts, a young British family living in Japan, have decided to spend Christmas in Thailand. Henry (Ewan McGregor – Trainspotting, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) and Maria (Naomi Watts – The Ring, J. Edgar) have brought their three young boys, Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast), to an idyllic beach resort to celebrate the holiday. Everything is going very well until a huge tsunami wave hits the coast of Thailand.
When the wave hits the five Bennetts are at the pool. A massive amount of water hits crushing everything in its path. The entire family is separated. Battered and bruised but alive, Maria hears her son Lucas calling out in the distance. After some hairy moments mother and eldest son are reunited. Both have been injured by the flying debris, but Maria is in the worse shape. She has some wounds on her chest and a big gash on one of her calves.
Maria and Lucas spy a tall tree and decide to wade to it and then climb up for safety in case another wave hits. They hear a young male voice calling out while wading to the tree. Maria makes a hesitant Lucas search for the boy. After a short search they find a young non-English speaking boy who could not be more than 5-years-old. The two young boys have no trouble climbing the tree, but Lucas has to help his mother as due to her leg injury she cannot make it up.
After a night in the tree where all they have to eat or drink is a can of cola that Lucas found floating by. The three are overjoyed when they hear the voices of some local Thai villagers searching through the rubble for survivors. The villagers put Maria on a door they use a stretcher and bring her and Lucas to a hospital.
Maria is very weak having lost a lot of blood and her wounds have not been kept clean so there is a high chance of infection. Lucas becomes her pillar. He stays by his mother’s side. They do not know what happened to the other three members of their family, so are slowly coming to grips with the fact that they are all they have left in this world. Maria fights to stay alive for her son, Lucas.
The bond between mother and son is so beautiful amidst all this horror and chaos that it becomes the center of the story. Everything else, which is also well done, shoots off from their relationship. A mother and son trying to take care of each other under these types of conditions has not been often done in film and here it is done very well. What was most beautiful was that even in such pain and despair, Maria continues being a mother to Lucas. She is protective, struggles to stay conscious through the searing pain to keep her eye on him, and continues to try and teach him things she deems important like empathy.
Often difficult to watch due to all the death, horror and pain, The Impossible manages to remain lovely and as such is a film that you will find yourself not being able to turn away from.