Entertainment Entertainment Movies

'The Impossible' review: Scary and real

*** (out of four)

In movies, even the most universal truths aren't a given. Love can appear unconvincing; family members seem like they barely know each other.

In “The Impossible,” however, the simplest emotional necessities come through in full force. The situation’s a nightmare that many were unlucky enough to live; in fact, the film is based on the story of a Spanish family who was vacationing in Thailand during the Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami, the deadliest on record. Naomi Watts plays Maria, who is stranded with her oldest son, Lucas (Tom Holland), after the tsunami—with no idea about the fate or location of her husband (Ewan McGregor) and other two sons. Maria’s right thigh's split open; Lucas is understandably shaken. Together they make it up a tree, surviving long enough for others to find them and add them to the already packed list of patients in a hospital surrounded by death of many different species.

The second feature collaboration between director J.A. Bayona (impressively adapting to a much larger scope) and writer Sergio G. Sanchez (the terrifying “The Orphanage”), “The Impossible” mostly sticks to an approach of unadorned human drama—though a handful of strings-enhanced, dramatized moments hinder a story that needs no added emotional heft. Watts is wonderful; some of the supporting performances waver. What's never in doubt is the strength of the bond between this family or the horror at any age of having loved ones torn away and being left alone in the world.

Yes, the movie should have paid more attention to the people who actually live in Thailand. Yet far more effectively than, say, the three-hour nonsense of “Cloud Atlas,” “The Impossible” levels the playing field of fundamental human need and behavior, often revolving around luck that we have no control over whatsoever.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Matt Pais' 20 best movies of 2012

    Matt Pais' 20 best movies of 2012

    Click here for Matt's Bottom 20 of 2012     Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U mpais@tribune.com   Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.  

  • Matt Pais' 20 worst movies of 2012

    Matt Pais' 20 worst movies of 2012

    These movies are so bad, the rankings feel somewhat arbitrary, and totally besides the point. Don't see them. Ever. Click here for Matt's Top 20 of 2012     Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U mpais@tribune.com   Want more? Discuss this article and others on...

  • 12 underrated movies from 2012

    12 underrated movies from 2012

    Click here for Matt Pais' Top 20 of 2012Click here for Matt's Bottom 20 of 2012     Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U mpais@tribune.com   Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.  

  • Advice for The 606 neighbors

    Advice for The 606 neighbors

    Strangers whooshing by in view of your living room isn't a new problem in Chicago, where the CTA’s elevated tracks can provide a view of residents' balconies, backyards or even bathrooms. Ashley Marchi just moved to one such apartment.

  • When The 606 is your neighbor

    When The 606 is your neighbor

    John Knoerle admits he’s the “designated curmudgeon” of the neighborhood, but when it comes to the Bloomingdale Trail, slated to open practically in his front yard, he thinks a little grumpiness is justified.

  • Tuesday: Eat. Drink. Do.

    Tuesday: Eat. Drink. Do.

    Boozy ice pops, $1 oysters and more things to do in Chicago on Tuesday, May 26. 

  • Why would Rebel Wilson lie about her age?

    Why would Rebel Wilson lie about her age?

    On Monday, "Pitch Perfect 2″ actress Rebel Wilson took to Twitter after what she called the "shady Australian press" claimed she was not 29, but 36. Oh, and that her name wasn't really Rebel Wilson.

  • Photos: 68th annual Cannes Film Festival

    Photos: 68th annual Cannes Film Festival

Comments
Loading