The Impossible is a real-life disaster movie that re-stages the South Asian tsunami of Christmas 2004.
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play Maria and Henry, a high- powered married couple enjoying a luxury holiday in Thailand with their children, before the wave hits, the family is torn apart, and their bodies are battered.
Maria, in particular, sustains some horrific injuries. Their individual chances of survival look bleak, and their chances of reuniting with one another amid all the devastation afterwards, seem bleaker still. The special effects and the production values are each of the highest order.
The scenes with the raging torrents and violent currents are so visceral that you almost feel physically assaulted just watching. And the aftermath of the devastation, is shocking to behold. You can't help but admire the film-makers' technique, and wonder at how they did manage such realism. The justification for such vivid disaster porn is presumably that it puts a human face on an unimaginably vast tragedy. But while the actors play their parts well, they remain mere cyphers for the resilience of the human spirit. And as realistic as it looks, something about the film is all wrong: it isn't just that it somehow engineers a happy ending; it's that a future audience could watch the film, never realising that the disaster hit anyone but holidaying, well-off, white people.
Dir. Juan Antonio Bayona (12A)