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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'The Impossible': A Heart-Wrenching Reenactment of the Devastating 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami

Movie poster for the film The Impossible starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor

The Impossible (2012) is a heart-wrenching and stunningly well-crafted disaster drama starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor as Doctor Maria and Henry Bennett, a British couple who travel to Khao Lak, Thailand for the Christmas holiday in December of 2004. Accompanied by their 3 young sons Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast), the Bennetts enjoy leisurely comfort at the Orchid Beach Resort before the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami brings widespread catastrophe to the entire region.

Their hotel entirely flooded and inundated with debris, Maria and Lucas are lucky enough to find one another in the chaos—though Maria is badly wounded with serious injuries to her chest and leg. Rescued by locals, they are transferred to a local hospital and treated, yet remain unable to locate Henry, Thomas, and Simon. Maria ultimately encourages Lucas to search for the 3 of them, unaware that they have survived and banded together yet have been forced to separate as Henry desperately forages for his wife and eldest son.

Based on the real-life experiences of Spanish physician María Belón and her family, and directed by Spanish filmmaker J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, A Monster Calls), The Impossible is a superb and utterly heart-wrenching tale of survival. Watts delivers a powerhouse performance as a woman of extraordinary resolve whose determination never wavers in her commitment to her loved ones. Working with a screenplay that could have easily amounted to maudlin escapism, Bayona elevates the film to a level of world-class cinema—in large part due to his masterful ability to capture genuine human emotion on screen. Indeed it's a deeply resonant and piercingly honest depiction of courage, compassion and brutally forthright human endurance.


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