While The Impossible is about a disaster—the terrible 2004 tsunami, to be specific—it is not, in fact, a disaster movie. That is to say, the genre tropes about different classes of people being thrown together as they struggle to (typically) get to some specific safe point, designed to teach us how (underneath it all) we’re all the same when the SHTF. Or something.
Also, there’s nothing campy or tongue-in-cheek about this deadly serious flick: Naomi Watts and Ewan MacGregor are vacationing with their three young sons in Thailand when they’re swept apart by a wave.
I don’t want to get into specifics because I enjoyed not knowing who lived and who died and what happened along the way. Suffice to say that they didn’t all die and the story follows the survivors as they try to reuinte and, you know, not die from tsunami-related injuries.
Of which there are some doozies.
Watts and MacGregor are great, as always. I somehow feel like I shouldn’t like Watts for some reason or another, but I don’t know why. She seems to bring class to most endeavors (King Kong, The Ring, she’s great in Tank Girl) and she does that acting thing those British ladies are so good at.
Anyway, acting is good. There’s some real suspense in here, along with no small amount of dread, gore, and bodybags (of all sizes). It’s harrowing and emotional, and you should stay away from the IMDB message boards unless you want to read pages of how racist it is, because it focuses on a rich, white family instead of a Thai or other…minority?
That’s kind of a puzzler since (even with all the European tourism), whites would be a minority in Thailand, where a Thai wouldn’t. But I guess it’s not so much about minorities as it is about white people being evil and self-involved. I’m sure any Thai movies made about the tsunami have or will have plots centered around British and American families.
Some people are truly sick with obsession. Which isn’t really relevant to the film.
It’s harrowing. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it per se—this is why there is a disaster genre, so that we can enjoy cataclysmic destruction, as opposed to realistic depictions of such horrors. And I’m pretty sure it was toned down to boot, as awful as it was.
The Boy and The Flower liked it. I don’t think this sort of thing affects them much (as I would have been unaffected at their age). There were some interesting points where ethical considerations had to be weighed against survival considerations, and (with some exceptions), our central characters behaved intelligently (and doggedly) in their pursuits.
I guess I’m pointing that out because (however closely this hews to the real story) the actions of the characters were believable and not insanely stupid, which tends to drive The Boy and I nuts.
Summary: Good movie, good acting, not necessarily a good time, and not for everyone. Also, tsunamis suck.