For those lucky millions of us who only saw it from the comfort of our living rooms, the images were unforgettable. The day after Christmas 2004, the ocean rose and crashed down on paradise. Eight years after one of the most devastating natural catastrophes in recent memory, director J.A. Bayona brings the Indian Ocean tsunami and its aftermath to vivid, terrifying life in The Impossible.
The sun-soaked beaches of Thailand have been luring vacationing Westerners for decades: couples in search of romance, solitary backpackers on spiritual adventures, families looking for picture-perfect memories. The Impossible recounts the astonishing true story of one such family, whose dream holiday became a nightmarish struggle. In an idyllic scene on Christmas Day, Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) celebrate with their three sons by releasing white, floating lanterns into the air from the beach. The next day brings disaster: driven apart by the wave of destruction, the family struggles to find each other among thousands of strangers.
Reassembling the team from his international breakthrough, the ghost story The Orphanage, Bayona demonstrates yet again his astonishing command over his medium. Only the second film made using 3-D sound technology -- though the picture is 2-D -- The Impossible offers a terrifyingly immersive vision of disaster. Bayona's film engrosses the viewer in every inescapable, unrelenting minute as Maria and Henry try desperately to find each other and their missing children, confronting terrible uncertainty and impossible choices.
At once epic and intimate, Bayona's film goes beyond movie spectacle and plunges us into the centre of a cataclysm.