Starring Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland
Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage)
Rated PG-13 for intense realistic disaster sequences, including disturbing injury images and brief nudity
Based on a true story, a young family is vacationing in Southeast Asia when a brutal tsunami hits their resort, changing their lives forever. Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play the parents of three young boys who are washed away during the tragedy and must somehow find each other again even though they are spread out all over the region that is touched with death and destruction.
The first half of this film is absolutely riveting. The special effects are huge and the sets are very impressive. The filmmakers set out to make you feel like you are in the water’s way and by the time things calm down you are out of breath and exhausted. I can do nothing but applaud all of their efforts in the first half of the film.
But then the second half hits. My intention is to not give things away, but lets just say that the second half is just too convenient and too nice. The film goes from being a huge blockbuster to a movie-of-the-week in rapid fashion. The story is the story and if this is how this family turned out then they are to be congratulated for being so blessed. Unfortunately the script suffers from it. I think they could have handled this differently and created a much better finale, but that’s not what we get.
Very deserving of her Oscar nomination for the picture, Naomi Watts is fantastic as the mother who would sacrifice anything to save her son. It’s a touching performance and one of her best. Left out of the awards season this year is the equally amazing Ewan McGregor who could bring anyone to tears in his turn as the desperate father and husband. In fact there are many tear-inducing moments and even though most of them are brought on in a manipulative fashion, they are still earned, giving the movie a gravity that you almost expect but are ill-prepared for.
So bring some popcorn, soda and a hanky and be prepared for a jolt of a roller coaster up front followed by a slow exit off the ride. B-