"The Impossible," from director Juan Antonio Bayona ("The Orphanage"), offers a fictionalized account of one family's real-life experience of being caught in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed close to 300,000 people. The film premiered Sunday night to an intensely engaged audience at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"The Impossible," starring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts, is part horror film, part triumph of spirit. The happy parents of three young boys vacationing in Thailand during the Christmas holiday are torn apart when the tsunami strikes in the middle of a sunny day. The movie illustrates the family's post-tsunami journey — the oldest son must help his very injured mother to safety, while the father is left with the two youngest boys, trying desperately to locate his wife and eldest child.
The film marks the culmination of a five-year collaboration among Bayona; screenwriter Sergio Sanchez, who also worked on "The Orphanage"; producer Belen Atienza; and the real-life Spanish family, including Maria Belon, the woman Watts portrays. Many in the audience were moved to tears when, following the screening, theater lights illuminated the five-member family.
To a standing ovation, McGregor, Watts and young actor Tom Holland, who plays oldest boy Lucas, embraced the group.