Starring: Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Tom Holland
Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
Why watch: It’s a dramatisation of the 2004 South-east Asian tsunami, based on the true story of a Spanish family of five that survived the catastrophe.
The low-down: A family holidays in a resort in Khao Lak, Thailand, only to encounter the deadly tsunami that left over 200,000 dead. The couple (Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts) and their three children get separated, but amid the mayhem and devastation, defy the impossible (hence, the title) and eventually reunite.
The buzz: The director behind the Spanish scarefest The Orphanage brings a sense of spine-tingling horror to this disaster film, his first English-language movie. And horrifying it is, as early footage suggests. Watch in stupefied terror as 10m-high waves roar towards the unsuspecting family basking in the tropical resort after a Christmas celebration. The tsunami tears through the sultry palm trees standing in its way before enveloping the family - and a whole load of other things - into a wall of darkness. After you recover from the visceral shock of seeing mutilated bodies gasping for air, the movie takes a turn into 127 Hours territory, celebrating the triumph of the human spirit. Touted to be Oscar-bound, the movie, however, got mixed reviews in Toronto and Spain where it opened earlier last month, with some critics lamenting its narrow focus on the expat community and neglecting the greater wipeout and helplessness of the locals. More widely agreed upon is the film’s emotional manipulation with the relentless onslaught of tear-soaked faces and whimpers of “I’m scared”. Director Bayona demurs, saying, “We were able to connect with people’s inner feelings and I am sure that’s what has created this [phenomenon],” he says. “People are really touched by the story. We had a sense of that on the very first screenings when even the usher ended up crying.”
Opens: Jan 17 2013
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