Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Impossible (film)

I love this time of year at the cinema. It seems like every studio holds back their best films until as close to the Oscars as possible so we have eight on our hit list for the first weeks of 2013. Whether we'll get to them all remains to be seen!

Third on the list, after The Hobbit and Life Of Pi, is The Impossible (Lo Imposible), a disaster epic based on the events of the 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of South East Asia. The film is a Spanish production written by Sergio G Sanchez and directed by J A Bayona. It is based on the true story of a Spanish family although they have been made British "in order to create a universal film in which nationalities were irrelevant to the plot" (J A Bayona). I think it's a shame the family hasn't kept their actual nationality, especially as so much is being made of the 'true story' label in the marketing campaign, but I suppose financial considerations had a lot of influence.

Ewan MacGregor is good as the father, Henry, and Naomi Watts and Tom Holland are superb as the mother, Maria, and the eldest son, Lucas. Spanish sensibilities mean that there is very little saccharin-sweetness in the script or direction, even at the most emotional moments, so The Impossible does feel frighteningly realistic. I thought that the most incredible part of the film is the soundtrack during the underwater sequences. Without giving anything away that you (probably) won't already have guessed, there is a long sequence of Maria and Lucas trapped rushing along in the current. The water is murky and we cannot clearly see what is happening to them so the thuds, gurgles and squishes are all the more effective as our only real point of reference. I was briefly reminded of the techniques in Berberian Sound Studio. This was the most memorable part of The Impossible for me and I believe the scenes will stay with me for a long time.

The Impossible is not very gory although there are images of dead people and one wound shot that I would rather not have seen. I am a bit squeamish. It is rated 12A and I don't think it is really suitable for children much younger than that age.

Cineworld, Mon 7th to Thu 17th Jan, various times.

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