Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
Writer: Sergio G. Sánchez
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland.
Oscar Nomination: 1
Best Actress (Naomi Watts)
That the person who directed the excellent mommy thriller El Orfanato (2007) has directed this real-life disaster flick set in Thailand during the horrific 2004 tsumani becomes a bit more obvious once you realize Bayona and Sánchez dwell in the scary aftermath of the attack through the figure of Watts’ Maria. But while El Orfanato aimed for soft-whispers and creaky hinges to build up the blood-curdling set up of an orphaned ghost child, Lo Imposible goes instead for maudlin sentimentality as it traces Maria’s grueling journey back to her husband (McGregor) and their two other children. That the film survives the paint-by-numbers (if true) plot of this white family’s reunion is mostly due to its three leads. Bayona rightly taps into Watts’ intensity and McGregor’s vulnerability to ground the spectacle around them (that the visual effects and make-up teams didn’t even make their respective Oscar bake-offs is a bit baffling) but it is in Holland where the film finds its most valuable asset. He more than ably carries the film, vacillating between loud desperation and quiet distress, offering the film an anchor even when engaged in wholly contrived (even if true) near-miss encounters with his fatherr that could be just at home in a comedy sketch routine. C+