x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

The Impossible

A disaster drama that's not for the faint of heart.

The Impossible
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor
***

Shock, agony and terror punctuate much of this fact-based drama about a family caught in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, which claimed the lives of more than 200,000 people in the Pacific Rim.

The director Juan Antonio Bayona's instincts are spot on for the first act, as we glimpse the family enjoying Christmas in Thailand, with Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) reigning in the kids before the frightening onslaught of water that follows.

We're trapped in the water with Maria as she is horrifically thrown about before emerging, bloodied and dazed, to find that her surroundings have been destroyed. The narrative switch to McGregor's Henry is less successful, marking an awkward, almost mawkish shift in tone.

Bayona could have gone hell-for-leather throughout but didn't, and that prevents the film from being the standout it was meant to be.