With those post-Christmas blues, January is usually a pretty depressing time for some people – and this harrowing story about 2004’s Boxing Day south east Asia tsunami tragedy won’t help you feel any better.

But if you can get over multiple lump-in-the-throat moments then you would’ve seen one of the most memorable films of the year already.

This visceral ‘true story’ account of a family caught in the disaster of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time – which killed 200,000 people – is a tough, but worthwhile, watch.

Highly acclaimed international director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) and his Spanish team add a palpable grittiness that any major Hollywood-based production would be proud of – and even though the script is sometimes lacking, they deliver an end product any family could empathise with.


Controversially Bayona – obviously looking for something that translates worldwide – switches the family from Spanish (it is based on the true accounts of the Belon family) to British, but Naomi Watts (who’s just garnered a Golden Globe nod) and Ewan McGregor, soon allay any fears of ‘political correctness’ with stand-out performances.

As Maria and Henry, they truly evoke the true severity of the situation, as they and their three sons get swept from their Thailand resort pool area by towering waves of dirty black water.

But soon you realise it’s actually young Tom Holland, as eldest son Lucas, who’s the star of the show, as he fights for survival with his Mum; with Dad being separated from them with his two youngest lads – as two desperate stories run side-by-side.

When you watched it on your TVs eight years ago it’s hard to imagine what thousands of people were going through as the tsunami hit – they weren’t just fighting against water, but trees, cars, debris, dead people and serious infection. And that was if you survived.

Despite the odd minor scripting flaw, three exceptional performances make Bayona’s story a painful, but moving, experience – made worse that it actually happened.

Just like with Paul Greengrass’ 9/11 film United 93 you really have to see it – despite it possibly being still a bit too soon for some people – but if you’re somebody with emotional tendencies be warned.

The Impossible proves it is possible to provide a truly compelling start to the year – and if you’re feeling down, this proves things really aren’t that bad after all…

Gavin Miller

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, Sonke Mohring, Ploy Jindachote, Geraldine Chaplin

Running Time: 1hr 50mins

Director: Juan Antonio Bayona [youtube id=”PaY8EeUYh10″ width=”600″ height=”350″]

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