The Impossible (2012 film)

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The Impossible
Two adults and two children in a group hug
Spanish promotional poster
Directed by J.A. Bayona
Produced by
  • Álvaro Augustin
  • Belen Atienza
  • Enrique López Lavigne
Written by Sergio G. Sánchez
Starring
Music by Fernando Velázquez
Cinematography Óscar Faura
Edited by Elena Ruiz
Bernat Vilaplana
Production
  company
Apaches Entertainment
Telecinco Cinema
Distributed by Warner Bros. (Spain)
Summit Entertainment
(United States)
Release date(s)
  • 9 September 2012 (2012-09-09) (TIFF)
  • 11 October 2012 (2012-10-11) (Spain)
  • 11 January 2013 (2013-01-11) (Wide)
Running time 114 minutes[1]
Country Spain
Budget $45 million[2]
Box office $198,087,212[3]

The Impossible (Spanish: Lo Imposible) is a 2012 English-language Spanish disaster drama film directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and written by Sergio G. Sánchez. It is based on the experience of María Belón and her family in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The cast includes Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland. The film received positive reviews from critics for its direction and its acting, especially for Watts who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.

Plot[edit]

Henry Bennett (McGregor), his physician wife Maria (Watts), and their sons Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oakley Pendergrast) go for 2004 Christmas holiday in Khao Lak, Thailand. A tsunami inundates the area with overwhelming destructive power and as a result they are all swept away from each other.

Maria and Lucas emerge from the swirling water, with Maria having sustained serious injuries. They find a toddler named Daniel in the wreckage and Maria insists on taking along despite Lucas' reluctance. They are found by locals, who transfer them to a local hospital where Maria encourages Lucas to help others find their family members at the facility. While he is doing that, Maria goes to surgery for her chest injuries and her medical chart is mixed-up with another patient that had died. Lucas returns to find his mother's bed empty and he is then taken to a tent where children without families are put. The mistake is discovered when Lucas cannot identify any of the dead woman's jewelry and he is subsequently reunited with his mother.

Simultaneously, Henry, Thomas and Simon together have also survived the tsunami, although Henry is injured. The boys are placed on transport under the watch of a woman to take people to the mountains and Henry remains behind to search for his missing family members. Communication facilities are scarce but eventually a tourist named Karl, who was also separated from his family, lends Henry his cell phone to contact his relatives, and volunteers to accompany Henry to look for Maria and Lucas.

They search for their families in various places before they arrive at the hospital where Henry sees the woman to whom were entrusted Thomas and Simon. The vehicle carrying Thomas and Simon stops outside the hospital. From a distance, Lucas recognizes his father and while searching him out, Lucas' siblings hear him calling out in frustration. Henry learns that Maria is at that location and they reunite. Maria has surgery, which she survives, and the following day the family boards, for Maria's further medical treatment, an ambulance airplane to Singapore arranged by their insurance company.

Cast[edit]

  • Naomi Watts as Maria Bennett, a physician and the mother of the Bennett family.
  • Ewan McGregor as Henry Bennett, the father of the Bennett family.
  • Tom Holland as Lucas Bennett, the 12-year-old[4] son, born in 1992.
  • Samuel Joslin as Thomas Bennett, the seven-and-a-half-year-old son, born in 1997.
  • Oaklee Pendergast as Simon Bennett, the five-year-old son, born in 1999.
  • Marta Etura as Simone
  • Sönke Möhring as Karl Schweber, a German man trying to find his wife and daughter. He joins Henry to find their families.
  • Geraldine Chaplin as an old woman
  • Bruce Blain as the unhelpful American Tourist

Production[edit]

The film was a co-production of Spanish film companies Apaches Entertainment and Telecinco Cinema, and employed much of the crew from The Orphanage, including the director, writer, production manager, cinematographer, composer, and editor.[5] Principal photography began 23 August 2010, in Alicante, Spain, and continued in October in Thailand.[6][7]

Director Juan Antonio Bayona decided not to specify the nationalities of the main characters in order to create a universal film in which nationalities were irrelevant to the plot.[8][9][10][11]

The tsunami was recreated with a mixture of digital effects and real water surges filmed in slow motion created in a water tank in Spain using miniatures that were destroyed by a huge wave. Bayona committed to working with real water rather than a computer-generated wave because he wanted the story to be authentic. This meant Watts and Holland spent five weeks filming physically and psychologically demanding scenes in a massive water tank.[12] 16-year-old Holland later described it as a "scary environment ...You can imagine how tiring and brutal that was."[13]

Release[edit]

Warner Bros. released the film in Spain on 11 October 2012. The United States distribution rights were pre-bought by Summit Entertainment.[6] A teaser trailer was released on 26 December 2011.[14] After a full-length English-language trailer was released on 20 August 2012, a United States release date of 21 December 2012 was confirmed by Summit.[15] It was released on 11 October 2012 in Spain and in North America on 21 December 2012, by Summit Entertainment. It was released in the United Kingdom on 1 January 2013. The film was made available by Summit Entertainment through a website streaming the movie to members of SAG-AFTRA for consideration of the SAG awards.[16]

It was released on DVD/Blu-ray in the US and Canada on Tuesday, 23 April 2013,[17] with a European release 13 May 2013.[18]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Response to the film was positive, with much praise going to the performances of Watts, McGregor and newcomer Holland. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 81% based on reviews from 182 critics, with an average rating of 7.3/10.[19] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film had an average score of 73, based on 42 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews."[20]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave a perfect four-star rating, praising the performances of Watts and McGregor, and the direction of Bayona. He called it "one of the best films of the year".[21]

Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter gave a very positive review, praising the performances of the two leading stars, stating that "Watts packs a huge charge of emotion as the battered, ever-weakening Maria whose tears of pain and fear never appear fake or idealized. McGregor, cut and streaked with excessive blood he seems too distraught to wash away, keeps the tension razor-sharp as he pursues his family in a vast, shattered landscape." About the film she added, "The Impossible is one of the most emotionally realistic disaster movies in recent memory – and certainly one of the most frightening in its epic re-creation of the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami."[22]

Justin Chang of Variety magazine gave a positive review, praising Bayona's directing and Sánchez's writing: "Collaborating again after their impressive 2007 debut feature, The Orphanage, Bayona and Sanchez get many things right here, starting with their decision to eschew a more panoramic view of the disaster to follow one family's journey from start to finish." About the performances of the main cast members he added, "Watts has few equals at conveying physical and emotional extremes, something she again demonstrates in a mostly bedridden role, and McGregor, in one of his better recent performances, manages to turn a simple phone call home into a small aria of heartbreak. Holland, in his live-action bigscreen debut, is wonderful as a kind, somewhat short-tempered kid who still has plenty to learn, setting the tone for similarly heartrending turns by young Joslin and Pendergast."[23]

A village near the coast of Sumatra lies in ruins after the tsunami that struck South East Asia

Damon Wise of The Guardian gave the film four stars out of five. He also praised the performances, stating that "as Maria, Watts is both brave and vulnerable, and her scenes with the young Lucas (the excellent Tom Holland) are among the film's best, with adult and child now unexpected equals, the mother humbled, the son rising to the challenge. McGregor, meanwhile, gives one of his best performances as the sad and desperate Henry, trying to play the hero, the provider, while knowing his cause is almost certainly lost." About the film, he added: "Part of the appeal of this affecting and powerful drama is that it puts the viewer right in the moment at every stage, using authentic locations and tsunami survivors to hammer home the reality of this tragedy."[24]

Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film a "B-" grade and stated that the film "suffers from the greater problem of emphasizing a feel-good plot within the context of mass destruction."[25]

Criticism has focused on the concept of whitewashing, the entertainment industry's attempt at making ethnic characters more appealing to white money-spending masses by making ethnic characters less exotic and more "white".[26] The film focuses on a white family on vacation who get separated in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami but who eventually return to their intact homes in the west. Thais are present in the film when they offer a helping hand to the white family members and as medical staff at the hospital where the injured wife is treated, but are not present as main characters. Though the tsunami killed over 200,000 and severely affected the lives of roughly 2 million people in many Asian nations, the film has been criticized for its focus on the white experience while marginalizing Asians and minimizing the reality that Asians continue to live with the damage brought by the tsunami to their homes and livelihoods.[27] Countering these criticisms, other reviewers have regarded the film as a valid drama portraying the experiences of one holidaymaking family, in which Thais appear in realistic roles to the full extent that this particular story requires.[citation needed]

Response from victims[edit]

Simon Jenkins, a British survivor from Portsmouth, wrote to The Guardian, stating the film is "beautifully accurate". This was in response to critics commenting that the movie is "overdramatic" and "whitewashed". He says of the comments, "As I must, I've never been the sort of person to revisit and analyze events of the past, but some of these articles frustrated me. Had this film been purely about the tale of a western middle-class family's 'ruined' holiday then I would have agreed. For me, it was the exact opposite. Rather than concentrating on the 'privileged white visitors', the film portrayed the profound sense of community and unity that I experienced in Thailand, with this family at the centre of it. Both for my (then) 16-year-old self and the Belón family, it was the Thai people who waded through the settled water after the first wave had struck to help individuals and families... The Thai people had just lost everything – homes, businesses, families – yet their instinct was to help the tourists."[28]

Support UK, a support group for survivors of the tsunami, lobbied to have the trailer screened with a warning notice beforehand. A spokesman for Odeon Cinemas stated that it had no control over the content of the BBFC-approved trailer, saying, "We can only apologise for any offence caused on this occasion."[29]

Box office performance[edit]

The film enjoyed global success at the box office, grossing over $172 Million worldwide[3] ($55,267,353 in Spain).[30] In Spain the film was released on 11 October 2012, and opened in 638 theatres, grossing $11,569,306 on its opening weekend, ranking No. 1 with a per-theatre average of $18,134,[31] the highest-grossing opening weekend for a film in Spain.[32] On its second weekend the film remained at No. 1 and grossed $9,016,065 with a per-theatre average of $14,022.[33] On its third weekend it remained at No. 1 and made $5,768,184 with a per-theatre average of $9,098.[34]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards
Award Category Recipients Outcome
Academy Awards[35] Best Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
AACTA Awards[36] Best International Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
Art Directors Guild[37] Best Excellence in Production Design for a Contemporary Film Eugenio Caballero Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards[38] Best Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
Best Young Actor Tom Holland Nominated
Capri Awards[39][40] Capri Director Award Juan Antonio Bayona Won
Capri European Director Award Juan Antonio Bayona Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards[41] Best Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
Most Promising Performer Tom Holland Nominated
Cinema Writers Circle Awards[42] Best Picture The Impossible Nominated
Best Actress Naomi Watts Won
Best New Actor Tom Holland Nominated
Best Director Juan Antonio Bayona Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Sergio G. Sánchez Nominated
Best Cinematography Óscar Faura Nominated
Best Editing Bernat Vilaplana, Elena Ruiz Nominated
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards[43] Best Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
Central Ohio Film Critics Association AwardsRunner-up[44] Best Actress Naomi Watts Won
Detroit Film Critics Society[45] Best Film The Impossible Nominated
Best Director Juan Antonio Bayona Nominated
Best Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Ewan McGregor Nominated
Empire Awards[46][47] Empire Award for Best Newcomer Tom Holland Won
Empire Award for Best Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
Gaudí Awards[48] Best Director Juan Antonio Bayona Won
Best Editing Elena Ruiz and Bernart Vilaplana Won
Best Cinematography Óscar Faura Won
Best Sound Oriol Tarragó and Marc Orts Won
Best Hair/Make-up David Martí and Montse Ribé Won
Best European Film The Impossible Won
Golden Globe Awards[49] Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Naomi Watts Nominated
Goya Awards[50] Best Film The Impossible Nominated
Best Director Juan Antonio Bayona Won
Best Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Ewan McGregor Nominated
Best New Actor Tom Holland Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Sergio G. Sánchez and María Belón Nominated
Best Cinematography Óscar Faura Nominated
Best Editing Elena Ruiz and Bernat Villaplana Won
Best Art Direction Eugenio Caballero Nominated
Best Production Supervision Sandra Hermida Muñiz Won
Best Sound Peter Glossop, Marc Orts and Oriol Tarragó Won
Best Special Effects Pau Costa and Félix Bergés Won
Best Makeup and Hairstyles Alessandro Bertolazzi, David Martí and Montse Ribé Nominated
Best Original Score Fernando Velázquez Nominated
Hollywood Film Festival[51] Spotlight Award Tom Holland Won
Houston Film Critics Society[52] Best Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
Las Vegas Film Critics Society[53] Sierra Award for Best Picture The Impossible Nominated
London Film Critics Circle Awards[54] Young British Performer of the Year Tom Holland Won
National Board of Review USA[55] Best Breakthrough Actor Tom Holland Won
Palm Springs International Film Festival[56][57] Desert Palm Achievement Award Naomi Watts Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society[58] Best Youth Performance in a Lead or Supporting Role – Male Tom Holland Won
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards[59] Best Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
Sant Jordi Awards[60] Best Spanish Film The Impossible Won
Saturn Awards[61] Best Horror or Thriller Film The Impossible Nominated
Best Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
Best Young Actor Tom Holland Nominated
Best Make-up David Martin, Montse Ribé and Vasit Suchitta Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards[62] Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Naomi Watts Nominated
Teen Choice Awards[63] Choice Movie Drama The Impossible Nominated
Choice Movie Actress Drama Naomi Watts Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards[64] Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture Pau Costa, Sandra Hermida, Félix Bergés Won
Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture: The Orchid Hotel Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards[65] Best Youth Performance Tom Holland Nominated
Young Artist Awards[66] Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actor Tom Holland Won
Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actor Samuel Joslin Nominated
Best Performance in a Feature Film – Supporting Young Actor Ten and Under Oakley Pendergast Nominated

See also[edit]

  • Survival film about the film genre, with a list of related films

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "The Impossible". DarkHorizons.com. Dark Futures Pty. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "The Impossible". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  4. ^ Triplett, Gene (4 January 2013). "Movie review: 'The Impossible'". Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Ríos Pérez, Sergio (5 May 2010). "Álmodovar, Bayona make 'ambitious, high-quality European films from Spain'". Cineuropa.org. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Kay, Jeremy (2 May 2010). "Summit boards Bayona's English-language debut The Impossible". ScreenDaily.com. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  7. ^ "The Impossible". Screenbase. ScreenDaily.com. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  8. ^ Howard, Courtney (13 December 2012). "INTERVIEW: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, J.A. Bayona, Sergio G. Sánchez, Belén Atienza & Maria Belon Talk THE IMPOSSIBLE". Very Aware Movie Blog. Retrieved 3 January 2013. 
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  13. ^ Black, Claire (21 December 2012). "Schoolboy actor Tom Holland finds himself in Oscar contention for role in tsunami drama". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
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  26. ^ http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=whitewash
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  28. ^ Jenkins, Simon (4 January 2013). "The Impossible is 'beautifully accurate', writes tsunami survivor". theguardian.com. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  29. ^ "Survivors of 2004 tsunami left horrified after being 'ambushed' by trailer for movie about Boxing Day tragedy". Daily Mail. 25 December 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  30. ^ "International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
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  34. ^ "Spain Box Office Results for October 26–28, 2012". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
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External links[edit]