Naomi Watts is the co-star of the new film, The Impossible.
It isn't often (if ever) that I will attend a movie event before I have seen the film, but when old friend George Christy invited me to a luncheon at Ivy at the Shore celebrating a new film, The Impossible, before I had seen it, I was compelled to attend for friendship's sake... and because I had read some rave reviews for the picture. As an Academy member, I had received a video DVD of the film from its distributor, Summit Entertainment, but wanted to see it on the big screen, which I did last night. George, you may remember, was Hollywood columnist for The Hollywood Reporter for many years and now writes weekly for the Beverly Hills Courier. He hosts an annual celebrity luncheon at the Toronto Film Festival, and at this year's event, the film's co-star, Ewan McGregor, had suggested that Christy host a lunch for the film in Los Angles when it opened. So on Monday much of Hollywood's celebrity culture (Jackie Collins, Mitzi Gaynor, Pierce Brosnan) joined the cast of the film and the actual individuals whose story it was at a festive gathering.
Co-star Ewan McGregory in foreground, with guest Pierce Brosnan in back.
The real couple, Maria and Henry, to whom the events in the movie happened.
Tom Holland is the co-star who played their young son.
Ewan McGregor here with famed novelist Jackie Collins
The Impossible is an English language Spanish disaster film about one family's experience during the Indian Ocean tsunami in Thailand on December 26th, 2004. It depicts the true story of a Spanish couple (Maria and Henry, who were at the luncheon) played for commercial reasons by two stars, Naomi Watts and Ewan as a British couple, with their son in the film portrayed brilliantly by young Tom Holland. What we see is the couple and their three children at a tropical paradise resort on that post-Christmas day when a devastating tsunami hits the coastal resort, separating the family and triggering a frantic search to reunite them. You know that a tsunami is a giant wave, usually caused by an earthquake, which rolls through the ocean and destroys everything in its path.
The film was a co-production between two Spanish companies, Apaches Entertainment and Telecinco Cinema, and was filmed in Alicante, Spain and then Thailand. One of the producers, Belin Atienza, told me that the film, after its world premiere at the Toronto festival, was opened in Spain by Warners to enormous success, and it will be released in Los Angeles on December 21st. She said the budget was $45 million, and it is all up there on the screen. In an advance review by the Hollywood Reporter, they praised the performance of the two leading stars, saying: "Watts packs a huge charge of emotion as the battered, ever-weakening Maria, whose tears of pain and fear never appear fake or idealized. McGregor, cut and streaked with excessive blood he seems too distraught to wash away, keeps the tension razor-sharp as he pursues his family in a vast, shattered landscape."
I was astonished by the performance of the young Tom Holland, who was sitting at my table at lunch. He said he was 13 when they made the film -- now is 16 -- and began his career playing/dancing Billy Elliott in London after studying ballet. The London Guardian praised the film, saying : "As Maria, Watts is both brave and vulnerable, and her scenes with the young Lucas (the excellent Tom Holland) are the film's best, with adult and child now unexpected equals, the mother humbled, the son rising to the challenge."
Columnist George Christy with Mitzi Gaynor.
I had occasion to meet the director, Juan Antonio. Bayona, and the screenwriter, Sergio Sanchez, as well as the composer of the musical score, Fernando Velazquez. The director and writer had previously collaborated on a film, The Orphanage, which I have not yet seen.
Spanish co-proiducer Belin Atienza.
Director J.A. Bayona next to actress Shera Falk (Peter's widow.).
I strongly recommend that you put this film on the top of your holiday 'to see" list, along with Les Miserables and Zero Dark 30, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln. The Impossible is one of the most realistic and emotionally-engaging film experiences you can imagine. I promise you won't go anywhere near the ocean ever again after viewing it.
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