The Impossible is one of those rare movie experiences, where the entire audience walks out of the theater in silence, a bit stunned over what they have just watched. It's by far the most intense, emotional and upsetting movie of 2012. I saw an evening screening last night and have not been able to stop thinking about it, I even had trouble sleeping last night.
This is a movie that needs to be experienced on the big screen, from the opening sequences of a beautiful Thailand resort to the devastation of the tsunami, the impact just wouldn't be the same watching it at home. It also just needs the communal experience of seeing it in the cinema. After all, it is a movie about strangers coming together through a shared experience.
Naomi Watts has been given much accolades for her portrayal of the matriarch of the family, but as fantastic as Watts is in the role, this is truly an ensemble piece. It is easy to forget that Watts and Ewan McGregor are big stars, because they blend in with the other actors in the movie. The three boys that play their kids are so good, that it's hard to believe that they're all acting. They seem so much like a real family. I read that many of the extras were tsunami survivors and that may be why so much of this movie rings true.
Sound is prominently featured in the film. I can only relate to this as far as having been in several major earthquakes. When an earthquake hits, the rumbling/house creaking sounds are far more frightening than the movement. This movie plays a lot with the sounds of the tsunami and it is terrifying, worse than any Hollywood horror movie.
The film is based on the true story of the Belon family. If even a small fraction of the Hollywood version is true to their experience, it is a miracle that they survived. Although, I don't think that it's even important if it's factual, because the most key component of the movie are the themes of humanity, community and love. It's about how all of the survivors pulled together to help each other, regardless of where they were from or their own dire circumstances. The story has many beautiful moments that don't come across as trite or overly sentimental.
I have no idea how this movie didn't get more Oscar nominations. It's one of the best of 2012. It is a must see, just be warned that it is an intense experience. My stomach was in knots after seeing the film.