THE IMPOSSIBLE directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, written by Sergio G. Sánchez from a story by Maria Belon, with Naomi Watts, Tom Holland and Ewan McGregor. An eOne release. 114 minutes. Opens Friday (December 21). See listing. Read the Interview with actress Naomi Watts. Rating: NNNN
The Impossible is a harrowing survival drama that's almost too good to be true, except that it is true, every bit of it. Well, except for the part where the vacationing family that actually experienced the events was Spanish instead of British, but the market wants what it wants.
Juan Antonio Bayona's disaster epic is a textbook case of how to make an intimate drama about a massive historical event. The story of the Bennett family (in real life, the Belons) offers a through line admist the devastation of the Thai coast in the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 and the complex rescue efforts that followed. As characters encounter other survivors, we get the sense of a much larger event occurring outside our limited frame of reference, but that limited frame of reference keeps us fixed on the immediate, urgent story of personal endurance and survival.
Naomi Watts exudes a powerful, desperate humanity as a doctor struggling to keep herself and her eldest son (Tom Holland) alive throughout the tsunami and its aftermath. But Ewan McGregor does just as much heavy lifting as her husband, and has less screen time in which to do it.
Oscar loves films about people surviving tragedies, so count on a possible best picture nomination and a guaranteed one for Naomi Watts as a woman who goes through hell to save her family during the 04 tsunami. Don't count out Tom Holland and the never-nominated Ewan McGregor in the supporting actor category as her son and husband.