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The Impossible

The Impossible

USA/Spanien 2012 - with Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Sönke Möhring, Oaklee Pendergast ...

The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:

Movie info

Original title:The Impossible
Direction:Juan Antonio Bayona
Cinema release:31.01.2013
Production country:USA/Spanien 2012
Running time:Approx. 114 min.
Rated:Age 12+
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Thailand in December 2004: It was supposed to be an idyllic Christmas holiday for Henry (Ewan McGregor) and Maria Bennett (Naomi Watts) and their three sons. In a luxurious holiday resort right by the sea, the family just wants to unwind and celebrate Christmas together. But after a harmonious Christmas Eve, the dream vacation turns into a nightmare the very next morning. Because as the family begins the day relaxing by the pool, the coast is hit by a massive tsunami that causes destruction and chaos far inland. The massive tidal wave also separates Maria from her family. While she is able to find her eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) after the first wave and bring him to safety, she is convinced that Ewan and her younger children did not survive the catastrophe. Severely injured, Maria drags herself and Lucas inland in the hope that their wounds can be treated here and that Lucas will not have to lose his mother as well. Little does she know that Henry, Simon and Thomas have also survived and that her husband has already launched a dangerous and desperate search.

After director Juan Antonio Bayona dealt with supernatural horror in his feature debut The Orphanage, he turns to a very real horror with his follow-up The Impossible. The film is based on the true story of a Spanish family who survived the catastrophic tsunami of December 26, 2004. At that time, over 200,000 people fell victim to the seaquake, and over 1.7 million people living along the coast around the Indian Ocean lost their homes. A catastrophe of unimaginable proportions, which Bayona brings to life in an impressive and extremely moving way through the eyes of a few people.

No question, Bayona's production is highly manipulative. The sometimes very campy score, the close-ups of large children's eyes, and the certainly somewhat over-the-top dramaturgy absolutely shamelessly press the tear-jerker. And even if the whole thing is a bit too much of a good thing at times, it is extremely effective for those viewers who can be captivated by it. So there were quite a few colleagues at the press screening who found the staging way too thick and called the movie pure kitsch. On the other hand, there were also those for whom the film went very close to the heart and who constantly had tears in their eyes and a thick lump in their throat. I count myself in the latter group.

The frighteningly real-looking realization of the deadly tidal wave provides the first real goosebumps and moments of shock. The several minute long sequence literally takes your breath away, is oppressive and at the same time gets your adrenaline pumping. And when Maria discovers her injury, it provides the first real shock moment of the film. From this scene on, the story is told at a much more leisurely pace, but that doesn't diminish its intensity at any point.

It's not just the stunning visuals that are responsible for this, but also the strong cast. And here one in particular must be singled out: Tom Holland. What the boy delivers here and how he quite incidentally the also very good professionals Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor downright plays against the wall, is absolutely impressive and contributes a lot to the emotional force of the film.

You could now chalk the film up to the fact that it pays too little attention to the numerous victims in the already impoverished population, that it instead focuses on a white, well-off family and treats the actual misery almost somewhat incidentally. But that's exactly how Bayona does a first-rate job of drawing the audience into the action. He gives the audience real characters to identify with, breaks down any cultural or linguistic barriers and thus allows the audience to experience the catastrophe first hand. And that's exactly why The Impossible can work so well. Those who quickly regard musically lush emotional outbursts as kitsch and prefer emotions to be served subtly and very cautiously in the cinema, however, will not be very fond of this drama. But if you are willing to get involved with this very direct production and just want to see a strong, extremely moving drama, you shouldn't miss this work. Absolutely worth seeing

An article by Frankfurt-Tipp


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Cinema trailer for the movie "The Impossible (USA/Spanien 2012)"
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