|Naomi Watts & Tom Holland star in The Impossible|
The sun-blazened beaches and pristine, glistening oceans are the idealistic holiday vacation for the family. Over Christmas it's their most desired getaway, and it's understandable. The moment the wave hits, however, nothing is desirable, nothing is expected, and Bayona nails this right on the head. Frantic and ultimately terrifying, the sight is astounding, the tension palpable and the moment feels instantly real. Watts' battered, bruised and intensely bloodied face accompanies a dozen piercing shrieks, and they appear real, not at all idealised as a mere work day; Holland, playing the eldest of three sons, is a shattered, scared little boy, but at the same time steps up to the plate and defends his weakened mother, protecting her and hurtling himself through debris to reach her. The performances of these two are astounding, immediately hooked upon their heavy descent into a life primarily fixated upon survival. It's raw and deeply emotional, made all the more effective with the relationship of these two stars; it's truly, undoubtedly and impossibly brilliant.
McGregor, on the other hand, is drenched, head to toe, in blood, cuts are in their dozens, topless. He doesn't care of his current position, all he cares for is of his family and the two that are currently not by his side. An unrelenting, heartbreaking desire to find them ensues. This side of the film carries a weight unparalleled, one that is a consistent force throughout The Impossible, and one that is an undeniable power that carries the film extensively. A performance almost as great as Watts and Holland, but by his own right, one that's still as real as they get.
Bayona's ability to maintain a tightness between his characters ably enforces the emotion, focusing on their pain and their tears, eschewing a realistic survivalist within them. Balancing between this and a frightening panoramic view of the obliterated landscape shakes you to your very core, reducing the film to either emotionally breaking you or unsettling you completely. Either or, it's a magnificently horrifying anti-horror movie with a realistic backbone, executed with ease and the upmost care.
Verdict: This is an emotionally-draining experience, but it's also one of the most deserving depictions of a real-life disaster in movie history. Watts, bedridden for a hefty duration, gives the performance of her career, whilst Holland, a newcomer, is on due course for stardom. A must-see.