The Impossible Review
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Eight years ago, on the day after Christmas of 2004, most of us were relaxing after another busy holiday season when we heard the news of the devastating tsunami that hit Thailand. In just one terrible moment, lives were lost and families were ripped apart.

The haunting drama The Impossible tells the true story of one family whose lives were shaken by the natural disaster.

On Christmas Eve, Maria and Henry (Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor) and their three sons travel from their home in Japan to a resort in Thailand for a Christmas vacation. Two days later, they’re relaxing by the pool when disaster strikes.

As the tsunami comes crashing down, destroying everything in its path, Maria finds herself clinging to a tree, holding on for her life. But when sees her oldest son, Lucas (Tom Holland), caught up in the raging water, she lets go of the tree and swims after him.

When the water recedes, Maria and Lucas continue their battle for survival. Maria is seriously injured—but as she waits in the hospital with thousands of others, Lucas stays by her side.

The Impossible is not a film for the weak of heart—or the weak of stomach. It’s relentlessly brutal—nearly two hours of destruction, devastation, and loss. The imagery is often horrifying—from the rows of body bags lined up in the street to the rows of hospital beds filled with the injured and dying. And each shocking image will break your heart a little bit more.

Director Juan Antonio Bayona wastes no time in getting to the gut-wrenching drama and suspense of the story, leaving more time for the film’s natural horrors. The development is minimal—because it’s not necessary. You don’t need to know a lot about the characters to get caught up in their story as they struggle both to survive and to keep whatever remains of their family together. The situation is heartbreaking enough—and powerful performances by Watts and Holland make it all the more poignant.

After a while, though, the devastation is simply too much to handle. There are a few moments when Bayona taunts viewers, playing with their emotions as he drags out the suspense. And, in such a heavy drama, it’s almost cruel.

And that’s the film’s biggest drawback: although it’s definitely an effective drama, it’s extremely difficult to watch. It’s the kind of film that will leave you emotionally and physically drained, with tear-stained cheeks. So while it’s a noteworthy film with some remarkable performances, this devastating drama just isn’t the kind of movie that most viewers will want to race out to see as they’re recovering from yet another busy holiday season.

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