That will be your response when you start hearing the name Tom Holland tossed around for his impressive acting skills. The young man plays the oldest son of Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts’ characters in The Impossible, about one of the worst natural disasters in recent history.
For those with short memories, Christmas 2004 was pretty bad for anyone who decided to spend the holiday in Thailand as a massive tsunami swept through the islands killing hundreds of thousands of people, local and tourists alike. There were many survivors who caught the whole thing on camera and seeing the real thing, even on YouTube, was awe-inspiring and truly frightening all the same. Juan Antonio Bayona took on the daunting task of directing this film in a way that was realistic to the viewer and made us feel as if we were living through the tsunami ourselves. One of the reasons the film succeeds and feels so realistic was due to the fantastic performances by the cast.
Naomi Watts was great as the injured mother with her children as the only thing on her mind. Never mind that gaping wound on your leg, you must find your kids! Ewan McGregor has been a father for some fifteen years but has never actually portrayed one in his films. His emotional attachment to this role is evident in every scene. He is also separated from his children and wife after the tsunami and refuses to get medical treatment until he has reunited his family. There are three children and Tom Holland plays the oldest, about 13 years old. A large part of the film is spent with him, coping with the tragedy and allowing the viewer to see the aftermath through his eyes. It is through his eyes that we see his mother severely injured, that we see a small child rescued from under some brush, and that we see families start to find each other. One of the reasons these families start finding each other is because of him. His mother encourages him to help others because it’s what he’s good at.
Needless to say, you will be crying through three-fourths of this film. People die, families are torn apart, some are reunited, and innocence is at its peak in this film. Of course there is always the argument that children are never really acting but rather feeling what the role is asking of them, as if it is real to them. Considering the scale of this film, it’s safe to say that each person casted needed to confidently convey their emotions on command. A lot of what moves the viewer the most is tears welling up in the eyes of these characters as they struggle to survive.
What’s even more amazing after seeing this film: the story is based on a real family that lived through the nightmarish holiday. Their family picture is shown in the credits.
Another huge part of the film’s success was the special effects of the tsunami and the aftermath of the storm. Do you ever find yourself holding your breath in some movies when the character dives into the deep blue and you don’t know when they will come up for air again? This movie will have you bracing yourself for the crashing waves into your body slamming you into walls, trees, cars and whatever else may be along the way. Antonio Bayona took on a daunting task of making the audience believe and succeeded with flying colors. You will also leave the theater holding your loved ones a little closer.
I give The Impossible 4 out of 5
by Angela Davis