American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The tsunami that devastated the Pacific Basin in the winter of 2004 remains one of the worst natural disasters in history. Although I assumed its climax, as shown in Clint Eastwood’s film “Hereafter” (2010), would never be surpassed, that was before I had seen “The Impossible.” Here is a searing film of human tragedy.
We were London in 2004 when the disaster struck, and later we sat mesmerized in Biarritz, watching the news on television. Again and again, the towering wall of water rose from the sea, tossing trucks, buses and its helpless victims aside. Surely this was a blow from hell.
The victims in Eastwood’s film beheld it afar on home video. In director Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Impossible,” they seem lost in it, engulfed by it, damned by it.
As “The Impossible” begins, all is quiet at a peaceful resort beach in Thailand. Seconds later, victims are swept up like matchsticks. The film is dominated by human figures: a young British couple, Maria and Henry Bennett (Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor), and their three young sons, Lucas, Simon and Thomas (Tom Holland, Oaklee Pendergast and Samuel Joslin). All five fear they will never see their loved ones again.