The Impossible (2012) (PG-13)

"The Impossible" might just be the smartest movie there is. There are no unnecessary shots that fill screen time or (as many Malick critics think) just bewilder with their beauty and shallowness. These shots all add on to the plot of the movie and the emotion.
Some people say that the truth is stranger than fiction and indeed "The Impossible" showcases this with great precision. This movie follows the true story of a family that is ripped apart by a tsunami while they were vacationing in Thailand.
Maria is the center of the movie, she's the maternal head of her family and is a typical loving, nurturing mother. The incredible Naomi Watts plays Maria and makes us believe that we are all capable of putting up with what she did, because she plays Maria not as a superhero but as a normal woman who loves her family.
Then there's Henry the more nervous of the two, always double thinking and correcting himself—Maria is opposite, calm and composed.
The family spends Christmas in Thailand and just when things seem to be looking their brightest, mother nature turns on them.
It is in one of the most devastating tsunamis in recorded history that this family is trapped and trying to survive.
A gigantic wave plows over the beach and obliterates the hotel that Maria, Henry, and their three sons were lodged.
Maria is torn away from her family and is thrust into the waves, alone and wounded.
"The Impossible" is Juan Antonio Bayona's sophomore feature film and I wouldn't be surprised if this man turned into one of the more prestigious directors in the years to come. Not often enough does a movie combine every element of itself to the extent that Bayona allows it to stretch.
But the direction of the movie isn't the only surprise that "The Impossible" has to show. There is a breakout performance that rivals every other performance given: Tom Holland as the oldest son, Lucas. He recreates everything that a child would be feeling in his position. He's adult enough to make tough decisions and youthful enough to be scared without rationale. The looks of his eyes always are perfect, he outshines his adult actors by leaps and bounds. Watch out for this boy, he will turn into something.
Ewan McGregor gives one of his best performances as Henry. Then there's Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast who round out the remaining two children.
"The Impossible" works because of its child stars. If these kids couldn't act, the movie would fall and burn. But let me tell you, these kids can really act.
Many critics of the movie blast it because of how it whitewashed its cast. Yes, this is true. The story comes from María Belón. In "The Impossible" the family is white, but in real life it's not so. But if you are going to criticize "The Impossible" then you have to criticize "Argo" and even "The Dark Knight Rises". Everyone is guilty of whitewashing the cast, but this case is different. It is rumored that Belón herself picked Watts to play her. "The Impossible" succeeds—plain and simple. The mud may be slung, but this movie still shines on.
Naomi Watts was the only actor to receive praise at the Oscars, which is a shame. The movie should have been nominated for Best Picture as well as McGregor and Tom Holland, tacked on to the other actors that the Academy forgot—Michael Fassbender for "Prometheus" and Javier Bardem for "Skyfall".
2012 was a year of great movies. So many impacted, shaped, and inspired—but none as much as "The Impossible".
It's haunting, gritty, emotional, nervy, and beautiful.
It's not but every so often that something as simple as the cinematography stands out so boldly.
Óscar Faura should have received at least an Oscar nomination for his absolutely stunning work.
"The Impossible" is a great movie, breathtaking in every way.

Score: 4 out of 4 stars

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