Tsunami tale recre­ates con­fu­sion and ter­ror

THE IM­POS­SI­BLE (12A) ★★★★

Bray People - - LIFE STYLE -

MOTHER NA­TURE is a cruel mis­tress. She can nur­ture and nour­ish, and con­jure new life in the most des­o­late re­gions, yet she can also de­stroy with­out warn­ing or mercy. On De­cem­ber 26, 2004, while many in the West were bloated with post- Christ­mas ex­cess, com­mu­ni­ties across south­ern Asia faced unimag­in­able dev­as­ta­tion.

An earth­quake off the coast of north­ern Su­ma­tra dis­placed huge vol­umes of water, re­sult­ing in a mas­sive tsunami that ripped through the re­gion, raz­ing lush wilder­ness and lux­ury re­sorts packed with va­ca­tion­ing fam­i­lies. Thou­sands of peo­ple were killed and many more were left home­less by a wall of roar­ing, churn­ing water.

‘ This is the true story of one of those fam­i­lies,’ de­clares The Im­pos­si­ble, a har­row­ing drama about five peo­ple caught up in the dis­as­ter, who mus­tered for­mi­da­ble strength and courage to search for each other amid scenes of heart­break­ing loss.

Adapted by screen­writer Ser­gio G Sanchez from the night­mar­ish rec­ol­lec­tions of sur­vivors Maria and En­rique Belon, Juan An­to­nia Bay­ona's film packs a mighty emo­tional punch with ev­ery ex­pertly crafted frame. There but for the grace of God and Mother Na­ture go all of us.

Henry (Ewan McGre­gor) and Maria (Naomi Watts) ar­rive in the trop­i­cal par­adise of Thai­land with their three sons, Lu­cas (Tom Hol­land), Thomas (Sa­muel Joslin) and Simon (Oak­lee Pen­der­gast). They open Christ­mas presents on the pa­tio over­look­ing the sea, un­aware of the hor­ror to come. The fol­low­ing day, flocks of ter­ri­fied birds take to the skies, herald­ing a wall of water that ca­reens through the com­plex.

Maria and Lu­cas are car­ried away by the surge and when the water even­tu­ally re­cedes, they hob­ble through mud and de­tri­tus in search of sur­vivors. Mean­while, Henry is forced to leave his two youngest boys in the care of strangers in or­der to learn the fate of his wife and el­dest child. ‘I've never looked af­ter any­one be­fore. I'm scared,’ pleads seven-year-old Thomas, to no avail.

Di­rected with aplomb by Bay­ona, The Im­pos­si­ble recre­ates the tsunami us­ing gi­ant water tanks to drench the lead cast, aug­mented with dig­i­tal ef­fects that give a sense of the con­fu­sion and ter­ror that fate­ful win­ter's day.

Watts wrings out co­pi­ous tears as a crit­i­cally ill mother who puts on a brave face in front of her ter­ri­fied boy.

McGre­gor has the less showy role but still tugs heart­strings with an an­guished tele­phone call back home to dis­traught rel­a­tives, his voice crack­ing with ev­ery shell-shocked word.

Teenage new­comer Hol­land im­presses most, bear­ing the emo­tional weight of deeply mov­ing scenes as if he has been act­ing all of his life. He doesn't strike a false note as the cam­era stares un­flinch­ing into his blood­shot eyes.

Star­ing back is a boy forced to cast aside child­ish things in or­der to make life-or-death de­ci­sions that could leave him or­phaned in a for­eign land.

Naomi Watts in The Im­pos­si­ble.

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