Willie Waffle is the movie critic for people who hate movie critics.

The Impossible - Naomi Watts is Back and Thinking Oscar - Review


impossibleposter.jpgI really like Naomi Watts, but where has she been lately?  She had a nice, small role in J. Edgar, and appeared in a bunch of indie movies, but we haven't really seen her in a major blockbuster since King Kong in 2005.  The Impossible won't be that blockbuster, but it might get her another Oscar nomination.

Set in 2004 and based on a true story, Watts stars as Maria - the married mother of 3 boys heading to Thailand with her husband, Henry (Ewan McGregor).  It is Christmas at a tropical beach resort paradise, but all of that is shattered when the tsunami hits, destroying everything in its path, and separating this family.

Who has survived?

Can they find each other?

Director Juan Antonio Bayona starts The Impossible with the most intense, shocking scenes you can imagine as the tsunami invades and puts everyone in horrible peril, but he keeps the intensity going with pure human drama and emotion throughout the rest of the movie.

Bayona perfectly captures that tsunami with an alarming, harrowing re-creation.  Without being exploitive, he does tap into our emotions and fears with that stunning, dangerous silence just before the worst hits.  Then, Bayona captures the mayhem as people struggle to survive, find their loved ones and confront the unthinkable in the middle of a trash strewn disaster zone of destroyed homes, abandoned vehicles and dead bodies waiting to be discovered.  It is not for the faint of heart.

After that, The Impossible is more about the battle of the human spirit, which is captured so vividly by Watts and the cast.  Watts does bring in a myriad of emotions, and has the audience holding its breath as her physical condition worsens.  Whether it is showing gratitude to those who help, the physical pain that makes you ache, or the emotional struggle of a parent and spouse who feels she has lost all of the loves of her life, Watts is fantastic.  impossibleSUMMIT.jpg 

Also, you have to admire the performance from young Tom Holland, who plays the oldest child, Lucas.  His journey might be a bit more predictable as we watch him go from selfish, bratty older child to becoming more adult and concerned in the face of horrible circumstances, but the kid delivers.    

Bayona and writer Sergio Sanchez revisit the tsunami when it is not needed, and The Impossible drags a bit as we start to realize what will happen at the end, but it won't stop you from having a tear or two in your eye. 


3 Waffles (Out of 4)

The Impossible is rated PG-13 for intense realistic disaster sequences, including disturbing injury images and brief nudity