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FILM FANS: Washed with emotions in 'The Impossible'

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "The Impossble." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

3 out of 4 stars

"The Impossible" tells the dramatic tale of one family caught in the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play Maria and Henry Bennett, parents of three young boys. Watts and McGregor are in fine form, even with their limited amount of dialogue, as are the actors portraying their children (especially Tom Holland, who plays the eldest child, Lucas). Since the story is based on a real Spanish family, the Alvarez Belons, the unfolding events truly tug at one's heartstrings.

Once the tsunami hits the resort in Thailand about fifteen minutes into the movie, "The Impossible" is not easy to watch. The scenes of destruction are vividly shot, with effective use of computer-generated visuals, too. Director J.A. Bayona does an excellent job of allowing the story to unravel, first focusing on Maria and Lucas, and then on Henry and the younger sons. The score, by Spanish composer Fernando Velazquez, beautifully paints the scenes primarily with strings, but also with wordless choirs, ominous drums and piano.

If you're up for a heart-wrenching couple of hours, bring your box of tissues and see "The Impossible" on the big screen. It will help you to believe in hope once again and remind you of the power of faith and love.

-- Paul Tate, Sugar Hill

3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

Based on a true account, "The Impossible," starring Naomi Watts (Maria, mother), Ewan McGregor (Henry, father) and Tom Holland (Lucas, oldest son), is a powerful story of a family's survival in the path of the Dec. 26, 2004, Thailand tsunami. Director Juan Antonio Bayona seized my heart by submerging me under the depths of the ocean, taking me deep into the perilous journey until it was my own. This movie was very intense and shouldn't be viewed by younger or very sensitive audiences.

Watts' performance was excellent, and I felt the labored anguish, heartache and deep love with each ghastly painful movement she made, knowing every step worsened her life-threatening injuries and would take her further from her husband and younger sons who were swept away by the rushing waters. McGregor as the father gave a satisfactory performance, but didn't do anything exceptional or compelling for me. Without question, the star of the movie was young Holland, who was extraordinary as the oldest son. His character moved from an adolescent to that of a caretaker, and you're transfixed, watching his maturation into a solid leader right before your eyes.

There is nothing impossible when you have love -- a love that holds on tight and refuses to give up in the face of adversity. "The Impossible" excelled brilliantly.

-- Myra Simons, Buford

3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

Many movies have been made about the indomitable human spirit, triumphing over enormous odds. Few, however, touch the soul like "The Impossible," based on the true story of a family who survived the destruction and chaos of the Christmas 2004 tsunami that hit the Southeast Asian coast.

Henry (Ewan McGregor) and Maria (Naomi Watts) are a British couple on holiday from their teaching jobs in Japan, accompanied at a Thai beach resort by their three sons, including 12-year-old Lucas (Tom Holland). The beginning of the movie plays like a trailer for one of those exotic time-share commercials -- until the tsunami hits. Without warning, paradise becomes a killing field as a wall of water and debris are hurled at lightning speed into the resort and its patrons. Henry and the two younger sons are swept away to a different location than are Lucas and the gravely-injured Maria. Lucas then becomes the "glue" that helps to reunite his family in the midst of the disaster's aftermath.

This is the most intense movie I've seen since the opening 30 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan." Blood, debris, dead animals and human body parts are strewn about violently, but not gratuitously; they are used to illustrate the utter devastation during the tsunami and sense of desperation that follows. This film is shocking for adults and is therefore NOT suitable for children.

-- Tim Weekley, Suwanee