When I see a movie in theaters, I will write the five things you need to know about it. Additional note: I am working my way through the movies that are relevant to next month’s Academy Awards (nominated in one of the six major categories). Stay tuned for AMOUR, LIFE OF PI and THE SESSIONS.
5 Things You Need to Know About…
1. The Impossible, a profound and moving true story about one family’s traumatic separation in the wake of the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami (a not often discussed major world tragedy), is anchored by an Academy Award-nominated performance (as a Lead Actress) by Naomi Watts. Her performance as Maria, the mother of three boys and wife to Ewan McGregor’s Henry, is riveting, heartbreakingly vulnerable, and is both filmed (we are always placed so close to the action) and delivered (her eyes especially are telling great information) with complete accessibility. Although Watts gives a commanding performance deserving of award season praise, it is in fact her eldest son Lucas, played expertly by newcomer Tom Holland, who is the heart of this story as he strives to put the pieces back together of his family and his world in the aftermath of this tragic natural disaster. Lucas is both the viewer’s emotional guide and the guide of so many more injured trying to find their way through the debris of destruction and their separation to loved ones.
2. Ewan McGregor may be the most underrated and under appreciated actor working in cinema. I have seen at least a dozen of his movies and each time I am struck anew about how effortless, compelling, and enjoyable his performances are. I recognize that post Star Wars trilogy, his role choices have not focused on “winning the weekend box office” but rather on mostly low-budget stories driven by character, director, or fellow actor, but even still, why his name isn’t tossed around on the list of the best of his craft is beside me. Once again, Ewan McGregor’s performance in The Impossible is overshadowed by Naomi Watts award season invitee, but someone needs to give a shout out to another emotionally gripping, beautiful performance from the Scotsman. There are several scenes (especially one involving a phone call) that match up against the best acting (Daniel Day Lewis, both lead actors in The Master) of 2012. I presume that his upcoming role in August: Osage County will once again be overlooked among an all-star cast working on all-star material (the best stage play I have ever seen), but let us hope that this movie or one in the near future will finally provide Ewan McGregor some proper recognition for a job so well done.
3. The Impossible is this year’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and I think this is a great thing. I am not referring to the often used punchline (that I vehemently disagree with!) about how ELAIC embodies just how weak the crop of 2011 Best Picture nominees were, but rather how The Impossible is a movie that carries the such deeply moving resonance of a recent real world tragedy with such beautiful and thoughtful execution. For whatever reason, The Impossible has not found its cultural relevance amidst the award season hullabaloo (a less than stellar advertising campaign may be part of the reason), yet I can near guarantee that each viewer will be touched by its emotional profundity (Be advised: bring your tissues).
4. The Impossible is wonderfully directed by relative newcomer J. A Bayona. Its depiction of the tsunami (so horrifyingly real) and debris field of natural destruction is a near perfect fusion of sight and sound. I was impressed with both its at times wide and then focused scope of each character’s personal hell. This is a hard situation to watch, but Bayona manages to find natural, human, visual, and auditory beauty amidst the rubble.
5. The Impossible is a movie of breathtaking emotional and visual delivery that tells the true story of a family (here they are of some non-descript British descent, in real life they are from Spain) who must deal with the most unnatural adversity caused by the most devastating natural event. This is a movie that is profoundly moving and unabashedly and openly emotional, and, in a season where controversy about great movies seems to be par for the course (see Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained), The Impossible is simply (and refreshingly) a beautiful story about courage, family, and hope.
David J. Bloom can be reached on twitter @davidbloom7 and writes about pop culture and the NBA for Bishop and Company. He writes weekly TV columns on Afterbuzztv.com (next up, Fox’s “The Following”) and his weekly THE CHALLENGE: BATTLE OF THE SEASONS Power Rankings can be read on Derek Kosinski’s ultimatechallengeradio.com.