Last weekend Mark and I went to see “The Impossible” starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. It is based on the true story of the Alvareza family – mom, dad and 3 sons – (from Spain) who were vacationing in Thailand when the 2004 tsunami hit.
All 5 family members were in the pool area of their resort when the wave hit. Mom and the oldest son manage to find their way to each other shortly after coming up (not before being banged around quite a bit). The movie follows their journey to find medical care (the mom is badly injured). Then you discover that dad and the two small boys managed to stay together. He’s determined to find mom and son. Son is determined not to be separated from his mom while she is in the hospital.
There’s some great lessons in the movie – not giving up hope, loyalty, and enduring the seemingly impossible.
But there was one thing that struck both Mark and I. First the real-life Spanish family is replaced by a European white family. I’m not sure if Hollywood thought a Spanish family wouldn’t have as broad appeal? Then, other than a couple of native islanders who help the mom and son in the beginning, the entire rest of the film focuses on the Caucasian tourists – American, British, German, Scandinavian. Even with the movie being one family’s story – it seems that the filmmakers could have done a better job of portraying the local islanders.
Naomi Watts gives an AMAZING performance and will undoubtedly get several award nominations. Of all the characters in the movie hers has to go through the largest range of emotions – survival, motherhood protective instinct, overcoming the pain of her injuries in the search for help, and then clinging to life through multiple surgeries.
The film is sobering – an realistic portrayal of the ordeal. It’s quite graphic – showing the mom endure multiple injuries while swirling underneath the water being slammed up against branches, debris and furniture. I winced more than once. Of course it has a happy ending as the family is reunited and, oh look, our insurance company wisks us away in a private jet to get medical care.
“The Impossible” is definitely worth seeing. Just know that it’s heavy. Bring tissues.