Preparing to see “The Impossible” was like preparing for an expedition. First, the proper equipment was necessary before the endeavor even began. Tissues, tissues and more tissues were stuffed into a larger-than-average-sized bag, not to mention the particular movie essentials, including, but not limited to, an unbiased mentality and an open mind. A good degree of mental preparation seemed necessary after a bit of research on the tragic tsunami that swept across all landscapes touching the mighty Indian Ocean. After settling into my cozy seat just in time for the anticipated previews, I was all geared up and ready to go; or so I thought.
As it turned out, the time I spent bracing myself for the epic historical film was wasted. Nothing could prepare me for the drama that unfolded on the movie screen and turned into my deepest level of astonishment. “The Impossible” is worth the wait and then some. It’s a moving, surprising piece of art whose sentiments seem to emerge not from the screen but from the very depths of a hoarse, nostalgic echo that begs to be heard.
Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, the film starts off at a relaxed pace, depicting the loving family of Maria and Henry and their three young sons. While the buildup is casual and somewhat peaceful, it fits far better into context after the groundbreaking wave that, though you know it’s coming, shatters your emotional wholeness and brings forth that shard of humanity that you were unaware you even possessed.
Good luck fighting those tears. With breathtaking special effects and phenomenal performances, your heart is guaranteed to be ripped into multiple pieces, each shard of which goes out to a wife who wept for her husband or a father who lost his son. With Ewan McGregor’s acting amounting to an emotional escapade as Henry, the emotionally distraught yet determined father, it didn’t seem like the performances could get any better. Until the young Tom Holland, who plays the dynamic eldest son, Lucas, delivers extraordinarily, impressing audiences with his awe-inspiring talent. But no performance was delivered quite as well as that of Naomi Watts, however, whose stunning presentation practically made the movie. Watts, who has embodied such iconic characters as Rachel from “The Ring” and Ann Darrow of “King Kong,” as well as an appearance in “J. Edgar” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, was nominated for a Critics Choice Award for her role as Maria.
Be warned: This movie is not for the faint at heart. Its emotional roller coaster aside, the film’s sluggish yet compelling revelations are showered with physical strain and a handful of gruesome images. Hospital scenes and gaping wounds drench the film, and some light nudity is depicted. Watts will have you gritting your teeth and wincing in discomfort by way of her powerful physical performance, which not only captures the struggle of her character but ultimately offers a view of the center of a natural catastrophe, something few of us could truly understand.
Prepare to be unprepared. If you plan on taking a trip to your local theater in the near future, skip your annual blindfolded point-and-pick method. Choose “The Impossible.” You’ll find that it really is worth the hour and 54 minutes it so humbly requests, though it deserves much more.
Rachel Whalen is a sophomore at Williamsville South High School.