Directed by J.A Bayona
I came home sick for the afternoon and after a nap I decided to tackle one of the 500 movies I’d been dreading. I remember seeing the trailer for this in the theatre with Michelle and we both got teary over just the trailer…it put me off seeing it, and I’ve been eyeing the entry in the 500 list with wariness.
If you leave aside the whole changing a Spanish family to a blonde/red headed white family, and the fact that despite the disaster taking place in Thailand and the story being centered around a tourist family… this is a fantastic movie.
It’s very raw, very wrenching, and I suspect the headliners of Ewan and Naomi are partially there so that the producers could get the money for all the special effects. If that is the case then it’s well worth it, because the scenes of the tsunami hitting are devastating. They’re hard and realistic and I had a bit of a panic response to it.
There’s no trying to make things easy for the characters, they’ve based the story on a true life story of survival against awful odds and there are no punches pulled. The wound make up is kind of harrowing in it’s realism. I flinched, I’m not afraid to say.
Does it make me love the people? Oh yes. The opening sequence is designed to show the Bennett family as ordinary, loving and with familiar flaws: worrying about whether they left the house alarm on, kids not getting on, then celebrating Christmas and letting loose beautiful paper lanterns. It’s a very carefully made sequence, because as the audience you know what’s coming so you’re waiting for it all to fall apart while they’re blithely enjoying their holiday.
Naomi and Ewan carry the film, but the actors playing their sons do an amazing job as well. Especially Tom Holland, as the oldest son Lucas. He has so much to do and he’s impressively good for a 16 year old.
I got annoyed at one point with a sequence of just missing each other, one person walking one way and the other coming down the stairs right after. I hate that kind of thing because it’s obvious but also because it is so freaking frustrating as a viewer! It did make the eventual reunion more satisfying though, I suppose.
Bechdel test: It does pass. A few times Naomi Watts’s Maria speaks to female hospital staff and to a brunette woman in the next bed over, but for the most part it’s men, and women talking to men. And mostly non-Thai people… which isn’t super awesome, let’s face it. I want to see this movie again with the story based around a Thai family… preferably one not attached to a tourist resort. There must be thousands of interesting stories of survival from the Thai people.
Best line: …. I can’t… I can’t think of any particular lines. Mostly Ewan screaming ‘Maria’ over and over in increasing states of despair.
State of Mind:
It’s amazing, and it’s harrowing. I can’t really state those points enough. It’s an amazing and harrowing movie.