On screen, the monstrous waves roar and strike like liquid thunder. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, playing a couple with three young sons vacationing in southern Thailand in 2004, watch in horror as the tsunami slams on shore like a titanic fist and sweeps them away in torrential whirlpools, shattering their peace and threatening to change their lives forever.
After nearly a decade, The Impossible attempts something extraordinary and risky: it is the first film that reconstructs, realistically, the experience of being hit and sucked and slapped around by the leviathan waves of 2004. It is a dramatisation of a nightmare that ambushes a family, and after the spectacle of aquatic terror the film also aims to celebrate the spirit of hope, survival and humanity.
I watched the film at the Tokyo International Film Festival, and there's a strange sensation _ not unpleasant, but ambivalent _ seeing the computer-generated waves crashing down on the people on the screen when, 20 months ago, we watched real, cataclysmic waves hit the northeast part of Japan and killing tens of thousands. In a way, the screening at the Tokyo festival was a test run for the film that, for obvious reasons, may prove sensitive to Japanese audiences. As of now, The Impossible still has no distribution deal in Japan.
This article is older than 60 days, which we reserve for our premium members only.You can subscribe to our premium member subscription, here.