I watched The Impossible (2012) the other night as part of my mad dash to catch up on films released in 2013 before I compile my best and worst of the year lists. I was not intending to write a full review, but after becoming increasingly flabbergasted as the film went on and writing more and more notes, I thought that I should. However I wanted to capture exactly how I was feeling whilst watching the film in the moment, so what follows are the notes I scrawled whilst watching the film, with only the slightest edit (paragraphs inserted, minor changes to make it flow a little better). As a result, the review is a touch all over the place and there is a fair bit more swearing than usual, so I apologise for that.
Also, for more views on the racial aspects of The Impossible, put far more eloquently than mine, read this.
Even before seeing it, I have major issues with this film. Think it is disgraceful to focus on a white, western family when telling this horrific story. It is a trite and contrived start introducing the family. A total focus on Westerners even before the tsunami hits. Lol. A video camera. What an unnecessary contrivance. This is rubbish aside from the racial stuff. The whole thing is so incredibly contrived. Barely even see a brown person, let along need to bother caring about one. Even the much touted technical aspects are only middling really. Endless contrivance. We see a (presumably) local baby swept to their death. We pass right by that tragedy to return to a wailing Namoi Watts and her kid. This is the whitest film ever. And because the filmmakers don’t care about any locals, I don’t care about this white family. Haha, oh fuck. They save a kid (after inexplicably arguing over if they should bother making the effort)… don’t worry though, it’s a white kid. This movie is mind blowing. They just totally forgot about the little white kid. Then as they are driving along ALL THE FUCKING INJURED PEOPLE ARE FUCKING WHITE.
You can argue that the story would never get told it if wasn’t whitewashed. Don’t bother telling it then. Keeps the triteness going too. Everyone in the fucking hospital is white. Didn’t they let the brown people in the hospital? Seriously everyone this little kid is trying to help is a fucking westerner. This is just beyond belief. Where are the fucking locals at? Yay the white boy reunited another white boy with his Dad. Phew. I was worried someone white would come to harm for a second there. They aren’t even bothering to show the locals. They must all be totally sweet. Plucky Thais. Sorry what was that? Over 200,000 dead throughout Asia? Mustn’t have gotten to that bit yet. Even if this was set in England and the tsunami hit there, this would still be rubbish. Slightly less racist, but arse nonetheless. Hey look, Ewan McGregor is still alive. Shocker.
Ewan McGregor fell of an extremely low stool: Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. They have helicopters coming for all the white people. Subtle uplifting celebratory music. DON’T PLAY IT DOWN. THIS SINGLE WHITE FAMILY IS GOING TO BE OK. Praise the Lord. Haha, Ewan McGregor just had an encounter with an obnoxious white couple. Ooh insightful. Don’t worry, Ewan made his way to a white people only shelter where they can share their tales of woe. To stop being a sarcastic wanker for a sec, obviously the tale of this white family is horrific. But fark me, the way this story is handled is offensive. Go on Ewan! You can do it man. Make that phone call. Be strong. This overwrought soundtrack believes in you and goddamit so do I. Holy shit, I thought that was a Thai person with a speaking role. Never mind. It’s just a Westerner that is old and covered in grime. Oh this is good. It had been a good three minutes since I had felt the thrill of a white folk reunion. That feels good. These white folk reunions are coming thick and fast now. That’s good. Was worried for a sec this might be a sad film.
I am literally in disbelief. The ratio of westerners to locals that appear in this film is literally 100:1. Hahahahaha. By the most incredible run of sheer coincidences, the whole family all happen to be in the same place at the same time. Fuck this film. What an utter piece of shit. How can you be so triumphant about one person’s survival when so many perished? Fuck this film and its triumphant tone. All the shots of Western suffering are close up. Can see the injury and tears. The images of broader, societal suffering (i.e. a non-white one) are wide shots. This means that there is no human face to it whatsoever. Woah. Not one mention of the death toll whatsoever in the credits. Simply that the white family (who they even changed from Spanish to English) survived. Mind blowing. Fuck this film.
Verdict: Schooner of Tooheys New