Jan 8, 2013

The Impossible (2012) / two hours on the verge of tears

"The most scary bit for me... when I came up, and I was all on my own."

When it comes to movies, I'm definitely a weeper. But I tend to save most of the weeping to times when I'm alone: I'm not a cinema weeper. I get a bit teary-eyed, or sometimes I even have to hastily wipe my cheek for an escaped little tear that I couldn't blink away. But I don't openly bawl like a baby. Although apparently there are exceptions. Or an exception. I've never cried in a cinema like I just did! Really, it was exhausting.

It's been eight years since Boxing Day 2004. Horrible things have happened after that, too, executed by both people and nature, but the tsunami in South East Asia is likely to linger on everyone's minds, because it so closely touched so many people, all over the world. The Impossible tells the true story of one of the families, caught in the middle of the horrifying mayhem.

The film was good. I can't say I liked it, because I don't think anyone can really like weeping for two straight hours, but it was a very good film. It doesn't feast in the horribleness of the true events, and the wave part itself (even if the one of the scariest, most distressing scenes ever) is over very soon, so the emphasis stays on the family, and their desperate quest to reunite. I was actually really scared, expecting the wave, knowing it would come soon, and I just wished I could have continued to watch the idyllic family holiday in the paradise. The special effects were horrifyingly convincing. I adore oceans, love staring at them, but the sea was the villain in The Impossible. Scary as hell, too.

Acting-wise the film was quite perfect. Naomi Watts has already snapped several nominations, and for a reason: she had to cry almost as much as I did. The young Tom Holland, playing the eldest son of the family, has also been recognized. Personally, I think his role was the most challenging one, and he quite unexpectedly ended up being the most significant person in the story, for me. He's so going to be a star, that kid. (Just found out Tom Holland was actually playing Billy Elliot in the musical in London at the time I went to see it. I wish I'd remember if he was the Billy in the performance I saw...) Ewan McGregor pulled my poor heartstrings, too, with all that emotion of a desperate father and husband. (Having just re-watched the Star Wars prequels, I couldn't help but wonder, between all the tears, where in the hell was all that emotion when he needed it in the Revenge of the Sith? Oh well, too good acting by him would've looked weird beside all that other awkward, melodramatic "acting"...)

By the way, Charlie Chaplin's daughter was in the film, too! I didn't realize it when watching her scene; only when I saw her name in the end credits I was able to link it to her face. Thanks for the tears, Geraldine! I must have had dry eyes for at least a minute and then you came along... I must say the youngest brothers acted extremely well, too, for being so young. And they were very cute.

I have one big critique. The trailer for this film SUCKS! I genuinely hope I had not seen it before seeing the film. It is one of those stupid trailers that give way too much away. I realized that immediately after watching the trailer. Too much information, and not in a good way! It should come with a warning: "Watching this trailer will ruin all the suspense of watching the film for you! Also, don't wear mascara to the cinema."

To return to the weeping thing (like I hadn't been referring to the weeping thing in every other sentence)... Seriously, this was a cinema crying record! Almost any film crying record! When I wasn't openly bawling  my eyes out and getting my whole face soaking wet, I was blinking or swallowing a lump in my throat. I can't come up with a film more emotionally exhausting... Well, Schindler's List, maybe, but that one's in a league of its own.

The Impossible is not the kind of film you'd want to see again and again. Once is enough. It's heavy, devastating, and exhaustingly moving. It gives you a piece of hope, only to point out how horrible things still are, and there's no way this story can end happily. It reminds you that Christmas 2004 was really not that long ago, and this is a film that many people around the world will not go see, because eight years is not enough to get over certain things. It shows that reality beats fiction, any day. It makes you want to go and hug your family, embarrassingly tight.

Like I said to my friend when we parted, I definitely need to watch some Glee before going to bed tonight. Isn't that the most wonderfully, pathetically convenient thing about films? However distressing they are, afterwards you can always drag yourself back to your own, simple life, and start worrying about your own, simple problems. Because it was just a film. Even if based on very, very real events.

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