Tsunami: The Aftermath

"Excellent"

Tsunami: The Aftermath Review


As its title suggests, HBO Films' Tsunami: The Aftermath begins not with a crashing wave of water but rather with something far more chilling. A boatload of vacationing scuba divers returns to their Phuket resort after a morning outing on December 26, 2004 and notice all sorts of debris, and then bodies, in the water. At the dock they see that the entire landscape is destroyed, the hotel is in ruins, and everyone, including their families and friends, is gone. As they run through the wreckage screaming, you'll feel chills.

Among the group is Susie Carter (Sophie Okonedo), who quickly reunites with her husband Ian (Chiwetel Ejiofor) but is devastated to learn their four-year-old daughter slipped out of her father's arms and has disappeared. Meanwhile, Kim Peabody (Gina McKee) has lost her husband but finds her teenage son horribly injured.

The British Consul Tony Whittaker (Hugh Bonneville) rushes in from Bangkok accompanied by a scrappy aid worker named Kathy (Toni Collette) and finds himself utterly unable to provide what his stranded countrymen need. Hot on his heels is muckraking gonzo journalist Nick Fraser (Tim Roth) and his photographer sidekick Chai (Will Yun Lee) who zip around on a motorcycle with sidecar looking for stories. The Thai perspective comes from Than (Samrit Machielsen), a young hotel worker who aids guests even as he realizes his own nearby village (and everyone in it) is probably gone.

The multiple storylines bounce off each other as the chaotic days following the tsunami unfold. For Ian and Susie, terror morphs into panic as they race around looking for their daughter. Susie can't help but cruelly blame Ian for "losing" their daughter, and he heads off on a frantic search of temples, hospitals, and morgues looking for information. Susie, on the other hand, is nearly catatonic with horror. Kim worries that her son will die from his injuries but faces the ineptitude of Tony and his consulate, while Kathy does what she can to help and also tends to the Thai community.

Nick is outraged to discover that Buddhist monks are burning bodies that haven't been identified, and in one of many East-vs.-West cultural clashes, Chai explains the Buddhist attitude toward death and urges Nick, who's firing off angry news bulletins to Europe, to accept those differences. Than eventually returns to his ruined village and takes his grandmother's cherished bracelets only to be arrested for looting even as he watches a secret government land grab unfold. Will a megaresort sweep in and steal his village's beach? Nick is soon on the story.

That's a lot of plot (the film runs over three hours), but the stories speed along in gripping fashion. The question of whether Ian and Susie will find their daughter alive is the most dramatic throughline, and Okenedo and Ejiofor, who turn in Golden Globe-nominated performances, are outstanding. It's as if they're acting out their own little Beckett psychodrama in the midst of all this chaos. (Collette earned a Golden Globe nomination as well.) With each plot line, you'll appreciate writer Abi Morgan's rigorous avoidance of clichéd happy endings. This is tough stuff.

But it's the production designers who really deserve the trophies. Tsunami looks fantastic, and the making-of featurette is essential viewing for anyone who's curious about how the team went in to recreate devastation that the community had just spent more than a year cleaning up. When the monks burn the bodies and when Kim and Ian make terrifying trips to the morgue, you can almost smell the stench. It makes you feel like you are there... and glad you weren't.



Tsunami: The Aftermath

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 111 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 9th December 2006

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Ian Carter, as Susie Carter, as Tony Whittaker, as Kim Peabody, Samrit Machielsen as Than, Grirggiat Punpiputt as Pravat Meeko, as Kathy Graham, as Nick Fraser

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.