It is becoming more and more popular practice to make movies about recent history. Kathryn Bigelow has successfully made films about the American-Middle East conflicts in Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker, while this year's Beasts of the Southern Wild broaches the topic of 2005's Hurricane Katrina which left almost 2000 dead and thousands homeless. The latest movie of this trend is The Impossible, starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, and is about the enormous Tsunami that hit south east Asia on Boxing Day in 2004.
The Impossible is the true story of a Spanish family who headed to Thailand for a Christmas vacation, only to be met with disaster after the joys of the festive day. Perfect timing, therefore, to be released just before Christmas, on December 21st this year. Although in reality it was a Spanish family, they've been transformed into a fictional British family. After the walls of water hit and begin their devastation, the family are separated and its this that fuels the movie. Peter Bradshaw, for the Guardian, says that "McGregor delivers a performance with a sledgehammer emotional punch." A sentiment that is repeated by almost all critics, even those who didn't like the film as a whole. Bradshaw added that "With simplicity and conviction, it manages to be something other than a conventional disaster movie."
However, the Washington Examiner rightly questions whether the film may only "serve only to trivialize [the] experience", which is precisely what the New York Times thinks it did, saying "There is a troubling complacency and a lack of compassion in "The Impossible," which is less an examination of mass destruction than the tale of a spoiled holiday." However, in distinct contrast, the Los Angeles Times says that "It is the kind of ode to the human spirit that you hope comes along, and not just during the holiday season" and Time Magazine tentatively says "The Impossible is life-affirming." Disaster movies tend to either be focused solely on intense drama, or intense emotion, but The Impossible seems to do a little of both. Judging by the mixed reviews it'll be down to the audience to decide whether this was a good move.
Directed and written by the team behind 2007's utterly brilliant supernatural horror movie The Orphanage, Juan Antonia Bayona and Sergio Sanchez, The Impossible certainly has the team behind it to make it a success. Naomi Watts' Golden Globe nomination and being tipped for Oscar nominations could certainly help as well.