Inspired by a true story, J.A. Bayon's The Impossible dramatizes the harrowing ordeal of the Bennett family, who were separated by the catastrophic tsunami that rocked southeast Asia on Boxing Day 2004. It's a fairly “Hollywoodized” version of the truth (although the production is predominantly Mexican), but there's no reason for that to be a dismissive description. Bayona heightens the visceral experience of this real life horror story by leaning on, naturally, horror movie tropes. The gripping sound design, cringe-inducing makeup, and waivering string music all contribute to Bayona's innovative real-life-as-horror approach.
Stars Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Holland also do excellent work at embodying the fear that Bayona is going for. While one can be justified in criticizing the film for narrowing its dramatic eye on the wealthy tourists while brushing the devastated Thai people under the rug, I wonder if rectifying that would really have benefited the focused script all that much.
*** out of ****