Impossible Review – Beauty in Devastation

At the outset, let me warn you that The Impossible is not for Indians.

The Naomi Watts-Ewan McGregor film Impossible is so well made that surely it’ll put off desi movie buffs hostile to anything with the slightest whiff of class.

Nice Drama

Good directors discover high drama in everyday occurrences, like happenings within a family or town, and sometimes in rare events such as the 2004 tsunami that wrought widespread devastation in Asia.

Capable directors don’t engage in the gimmickry of a metallic suited Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man 1, 2 and soon 3) or peddle the meretricious allure of a fancy set-design to mask the absence of a great story (The Great Gatsby is a mediocre work except to those who haven’t read it and rely on the hearsay of a few idiots who pretend to have).

In Impossible, director Juan Antonio Bayona works remarkable drama out of the real-life story of María Belón Alvárez and her family who survived the tsunami in Thailand while vacationing there.

In the course of its translation into the English movie, the Spanish family turns into the British family Maria and Henry Bennet and their children Lucas, Thomas and Simon holidaying in Khao Lak, Thailand.


To describe Impossible as essentially a tsunami film would be inaccurate.

In my view, the movie is more of the immediate post-tsunami survival trauma of an European family vacationing in Thailand.

The gushing waters and struggle for life of Maria and Lucas in the torrent take but a few minutes. Yes, they’re crucial moments, they’re well done and they set the stage for the rest of the film.

But what it quickly recedes into, the post-tsunami separation of the family members and their final reunion, is equally important to the drama.

The struggle of Maria (Naomi Watts) and her older son Lucas (Tom Holland) in the rushing waters are extremely well done as are the hospital scenes later.

The acting is solid and the set creation excellent.

The highest compliment I can give Impossible is that it possesses the verisimilitude of a good documentary.

Naomi Watts

I’ve seen Naomi Watts in Eastern Promises but can’t remember her character in the film now.

Naomi is a a talented actress and throws in a powerful performance in Impossible, work that earned her an Oscar nomination at the last Academy Awards.

The actress’ compelling performance leaves me hungry for more movies featuring her.

Worth Watching

Tom Holland, who plays the older son Lucas, is easily the best male young actor I’ve seen in eons.

The 16-year-old British actor has strong command of his character, rare in someone so young.

I’d recommend that South Indian stars like Ajith, Allu Arjun et al train under Tom Holland.

Impossible makes for a compelling watch.

It’s a shame that the movie never made it to a really wide release in the U.S., debuting only in few theatres in late 2012/early 2013 (yes, Impossible’s 886 theatres is still limited release when you consider Oblivion debuted in 3,792 theatres).

Impossible has just come out on DVD and streaming. It’s available on DVD at Netflix and RedBox and on streaming at M-Go (just 99-cents under the 30-day promotion). heartily recommends The Impossible to all those sensible desis who loath Indian movies.

10 Responses to "Impossible Review – Beauty in Devastation"

  1. boopalanj   May 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Off topic: did “soodhu kavvum” (note, it’s a ‘d’ in soodhu) get released there? 🙂 Responds:

    No. I don’t see it listed in Anil Ambani’s MovieShitty theatre in Edison, NJ.

    But Greeku Veerudu starring Telugu Sooper-Dooper Star Nagarjuna is releasing across the U.S. today.

    Every Telugu film releases in Amazing America these days but not many Tamil movies do.

    • Madmax673   May 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      “Ethir Neechal” & “Ek Thi Daayan” was running in VA. Night show.

      After my lunch “Satti”nad Cuisine, I lost all my strength and didn’t dare to go near “Ethir Neechal”.

      • Naveen   May 2, 2013 at 11:26 pm

        @Madmax673 – Even if your lunch was fantasfic why would you want to venture anywhere near those movies?! 🙂

        • Madmax673   May 3, 2013 at 5:01 pm

          It’s just like “Taxi Driver” venturing around porno. 😀

          I just didn’t have enough strength to swim against the tide.

    • Madmax673   May 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm

      boopalanj: did “soodhu kavvum” (note, it’s a ‘d’ in soodhu) get released there?

      Did you like it? — I mean “Soodhu Kavvum”

      • boopalanj   June 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm

        @Madmax – Sorry, I did not notice your question since I did not visit this post after my first comment.

        But now, you’ve already watched it, and I gave my opinion just now in your review. I liked it.

  2. Naveen   May 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    SI – Was the Tsunami scene as visually arresting as this –>

    😀 Responds:

    OMG, I’d totally forgotten about the Dasavatharam nonsense! 😉

    There was so much noise about that junk those days!

    I think we got some 200 odd comments for that drivel, a lot of them attacking us for daring to write a critical review of a “masterpiece!”

  3. Sisri   May 29, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Picked this movie over long weekend from Red Box, major tear jerker – enjoyed wonderful acting by Lucas Responds:

    Tom Holland (Lucas) has a new movie coming this year – How I Live Now.

  4. boopalanj   June 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    It is simply one of the best movies I watched this year. This just proved that there are yet some people who view Movie as a powerful visual medium. As I started watching it, I had been filled with a joy and a satisfaction of watching something really good.

    You know, SI? When I go out to buy DVDs or order them, I open up the movie index page of SI in my mobile, and pick up a few randomly whichever I remember to be recommended by you. Some times, I do select some which were not reviewed on our site. But as far as the movies that you termed good are considered, I have not been disappointed.

    I first sent for ‘Dial M for Murder‘ after reading it on SI. After that, there were many. Recently, The impossible and A separation. Many a times, I come to know of a movie, only by seeing a review in SI.

    I believe that – People around us, Books that we read, Movies that we watch – greatly impact how we shape up ourselves in character and thought-process. And, SI reviews have played an important role in the choice of films I watch in the past 3+ years (from 2009) and definitely improved my taste and knowledge. Responds:

    Sweetie, I greatly enjoyed your recommendation of the “Travel Agent” film Departures yesterday!

    Remarkable “Travel” film about an extraordinary “journey.”

    I might do a brief post on the film later tonight.

    • boopalanj   June 10, 2013 at 9:57 am


      Thanks for watching. 🙂 Responds:

      Ah, the “travel agent” movie!

      I must do a post on the movie so that this gem of a film gets greater exposure.

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