I don’t know what I was thinking when I put on The Impossible, with Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. Well, to be honest, I do know what I was thinking: Ewan McGregor is hot (not Ethan Hawke hot, but up there). But, damn, I wish I’d watched Salmon Fishing in the Yemen or The Island again instead of this movie. Way to scar me for life.
The Impossible is based on a true story of a family vacationing in Thailand during the 2004 tsunami. And that’s all I need to tell you about it: it’s really as bad as you can possibly imagine. It begins with an idyllic scene of a couple with three boys taking in the beach and the sun. Within a few minutes, a horrific wall of water devastates everything in sight. If you’ve ever thought, “Oh, I’d find a way to grab on to a tree” or something else foolish like that, 30 seconds of that scene will show you how unbelievably vulnerable we are to nature. It’s shocking and humbling and terrifying.
Of course the family gets separated. Of course there is bleeding and skin flaps that reveal underlying muscle and limping along and climbing trees in terror that another wave might come and really kill them this time. They are light on the dead bodies for a film about this tragedy, but you’re suffering so much from watching Naomi Watts limping along bleeding that you almost don’t notice. Performances are good (including the kids) and (spoiler alert) the ending is happy in that the whole family survives and reunites. But, my god, what a harrowing way to get there.
So it’s a very well-made, well-acted movie but I hesitate to recommend it. At the end of it, you’ll feel like someone you know suffered through the devastation. And it will haunt you.