Director JA Bayona (The Orphanage) draws out exceptional performances in his cast, as well as his technical crew, to turn a true story into a potent dramatic thriller. This is such a staggering story of survival that the title almost feels understated. And even though it has a hugely emotional tone, the film never feels mawkish, taking a gritty, intimate approach to a situation that's seriously mind-boggling.
We're talking about the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, which claimed nearly 300,000 lives. But this is the story of just one family: Henry and Maria (McGregor and Watts), who travel to Thailand with their three sons Lucas, Thomas and Simon (Holland, Joslin and Pendergast) for an idyllic Christmas holiday. Then the Indian Ocean tsunami tears through the landscape. Lucas manages to stay with the badly injured Maria, and they go looking for help. Meanwhile, Henry finds Thomas and Simon and sets out to reunite his family. But the devastation is total, and it will take a miracle for them to find each other in the confusion of relief efforts and medical emergencies.
Avoiding the pitfalls of the usual disaster movie, the script remains tightly focussed on these five characters, even as they meet others along the way. This lets us feel every moment along with them. Meanwhile, the soaring cinematography and seamless effects work make it feel like we're watching actual footage of the tsunami, complete with almost unnervingly realistic make-up. In the tidal wave's wake, these people are grippingly sympathetic, more concerned with helping their family members than with wiping the blood off their faces. And all five actors vividly let us feel their characters' internal journey.
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It's December 2004 and a young mother and father take their three sons on a paradise vacation to Southeast Asia where they are not far from white sandy beaches and a clear blue ocean - a far cry from the freezing winter temperatures back home. One day, whilst the Maria relaxes by the pool, watching husband Henry play ball with the kids, an ominous, trembling noise can be heard getting closer and closer. Before the family, and other vacation-goers, have time to run for their lives, they suddenly find themselves caught in one of the most horrific natural disasters of the generation; the tsunami resulting from the earthquake of the Indian Ocean. Miraculously, the family survive; Henry drifts back to consciousness with an overwhelming fear when his children are nowhere to be seen, though it is not long before his two youngest discover him. Maria and the eldest, Lucas, have drifted elsewhere and Henry vows to search every shelter and every hospital for them. They are so far unharmed and are found by some locals who take them to a nearby hospital. Maria sends Lucas off to help people find their families and finds his own along the way.
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When he was a baby, Ambrosio was raised by Capucin monks in a Spanish monastery. He becomes a devout monk and, as an adult, his sermons are among the most popular in the country, if not the most popular. However, most of his fellow monks are jealous of Ambrosio's success.
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CHARLIE CHAPLIN's actress daughter insists it's an honour to live in the shadow of the late silent movie legend. GERALDINE CHAPLIN has flown to...