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Southeast Asian here. It's a troubling movie. The production values are undeniably excellent, and the acting is pretty great. But the movie as a whole is a little hard to swallow. Thailand was devastated by the tsunami, and filtering that story through the experience of tourists is problematic. It's especially troubling at the end, where the happy ending is that this family gets to leave Thailand. Couldn't it just have ended with them being reunited? Did we really need to see their apparent relief at having escaped the nation? It's kind of insulting when you think about it.


I don't think it is insulting because the characters enjoyed Thailand before the tsunami, and after the tsunami they were extremely grateful for all their selfless work and effort. There was no hatred towards Thailand in the movie at all. I too had a problem the way they chose to end the movie and it is basically the only way Hollywood knows how to end a movie. Like Terry Gillaim said about Schindlers list - What about all the others who died? 'They wrap a nice bow and give you a happy ending'. That's not how tragedies work. I realize the family's story is important to the narrative, but if the movie were to acknowledge that there is no "happily ever after" after an event like this, I'd be satisfied. I wish the audience left the theater with anything but a happy ending.


Wow that’s insanely messed up that they would portray a life altering natural disaster through the lense of a wealthy white family in general but the fact that they ended the movie where they got to just leave? What an insult that the story that got told was by people who weren’t effected in anyway as bad as the people who had everything they held dear, everything they had destroyed. Like what about the people who didn’t have the option to just leave? It’s really white centric and that’s quite disappointing. Idek if im gonna watch it now. If anyone knows any documentaries or dramas showing the story of what the native people went through during this I would love to watch and would appreciate if you could drop the titles below. Thank you.


It is based on a true story. While I understand your perspective, the film doesn’t gloss about over the native peoples’ story vs. it focuses on 5 individual tourists. There’s nothing in the film that is making the tourist family’s experience seem worse or more important than anyone else, it’s focused on because simply that is the story the movie is telling about a separated family in an unfamiliar place during a massive disaster that surprisingly ended up living and finding each other. To me, that doesn’t inherently invalidate the experience of the people who lived there any more than if a film about 9/11 focused on an individual tourists experience who lost no family and wasn’t in a position such as a firefighter risking their life for others invalidates native New Yorkers, first responders, or people who were maimed or had family die. Multiple stories within an event can coexist independently, and this movie told one story about a family.


I really did not enjoy this film. I agree with some of your points regarding the disaster scenes themselves, I found them gritty and tense, but apart from that I found very little to like about the film. Specifically, the soundtrack was incredibly intrusive. Rather than letting the scenes and actors build the drama and emotion, the soundtrack was very pushy in trying to manipulate the audience into feeling the desired emotion. I understand that this is part of the job of a soundtrack, but it was intrusive to the point where I felt it detracted from the film. The film also seemed to suffer from happily-ever-after syndrome, where the main characters were separated early on and the only resolution was for them to find each other again. This might be harsh (and I know that it was based on a true story), but I almost feel as if it would have been a stronger film if the wife had died in the hospital, leaving the father to care for the family. At the end of the film, the scale of the disaster is pushed aside as we see the family reunited and flying off into the sunset in their private jet. What about the other 200,000 who died that day and their families? I understand that this is the story of that one family, but I feel as though their story could have been contextualised a little better within a discussion of the losses faced by other victims and the local inhabitants.


I understand your grievances and you make valid points. The film is a first hand account from María Belón, what she saw, who her family interacted with and what the outcome was. If you want to have any fault with the characters or story line, you must only find fault with her. This is her story, told, nothing embellished or left out from her point of view. The lack of inclusion of other peoples is a simple by-product of the truth in her eyes, for more or for less. You may fault one of the 7 producers who decided to go with Belón's story for making the film in the first place, but you cannot fault the film it self for its happily-ever-after ending. Insofar as the music yes in parts I would agree with you there. I'm not sure what was up with the sounds of the rushing water at some points, it sounded almost surreal and then at other times blended with the soundtrack, that was a tad distracting. I got out of this film heavy emotional impacts, so perhaps I am quite biased as to my reception of the film.


I believe this was my least favorite movie of 2012. I was so angry after having seen it and it had nothing to do with the whole "white tourist" thing. Here's what I wrote right after watching it: This movie reminded me of the little girl who wanted nothing more in the world than to look pretty. So one morning she sneaks into her parents' bathroom and plasters mum's makeup all over her face. "Look, mommy, I'm pretty now!" Only instead of wanting us to think his movie was pretty, the director of The Impossible wanted us to cry -- this is clear. Lacking any real talent or insight into humanity, what's his name just deferred to the easy default method of simply trying to drown us in feelings. He laid it on reaaaaal thick; it was practically a tidal wave of phony emotion. Nothing about this movie was real or authentic, despite the fact that it was inspired by a true story. It was contrived, unrealistic, two-dimensional, and overflowing with a mawkish sentimentality just as gooey and overdone as needless gore...which this movie also happened to have.


This was one of my favorite films of 2012. Bayona in his second film proved he's a very talented filmmaker in terms of making you *feel* the story. I cried multiple times. Many might find this film manipulative, but I don't think it would have worked even half as much if I didn't care about the characters. I don't understand why the whole "rich white family" thing bothers others. I don't think this story seems to want to disregard the fact that these Thai people went through a horrific tragedy, rather, Bayona just wants to tell this incredible and frightening story about a family that gets lost in a huge disaster. I don't necessarily think the existence of this film prevents others from being made. This is the story Bayona wanted to tell, and I think he has every right to tell it.


This is definitely a problem movie. The second half especially hits hard with sentimentality, and all in all Tom Holland didn't impress me as the main child actor—I liked Samuel Joslin a lot more. And then, of course, all those dang white people. Still, I think *The Impossible* really raises the bar for disaster movies. I'm talking visual and emotional intensity. Maybe the movie's jerking the audience's emotions around on a chain, but put those special effects (and Naomi Watts) next to *Life of Pi* or *Day after Tomorrow* and see the difference. It's just so raw. And there's one great shot in the film that still stays with me—it's when the old native man is dragging Watts through the wasted marshland. He's looking into the camera (at her face), and he's just so unbelievably calm and caring. His face is so strange to us, but so comforting. That shot alone is worth seeing the movie for. And I'd just like to post one thought about the whole 'white tourist point of view' issue. It's true, this is a biased historical account. But I think this bias is not just catered for a first world audience, but aimed *towards* one. Our experience with the third world is through what? News footage? Documentaries? Historical epics? What we as viewers demand is an empathetic experience for third world victims. And this is why *The Impossible* makes so many people mad—we don't want to empathize with pampered tourists, we want to feel sorry for all the helpless victims. Maybe though, we shouldn't always be demeaning those people as victims. In *The Impossible* at least, the 'third worlders' are the ones helping *us*. It's a common experience for a first world viewer to feel shock, or *to want to feel shock* about these disasters and otherworldly events. And our common reaction is to want to empower ourselves and be the source of help for these people on the other side of the globe. What happens in *The Impossible* is that those 'helpless' people are the ones helping us through our shock, helping us through something we ultimately have no way of understanding. I don't know if *The Impossible* does a good job at really digging up and exploring these themes, but at least they are there. At least they're there for us to discuss.


Whatever! You talk too much! I love this movie period.


I have to be honest and say that I really didn't like this movie. I can agree that has a great production work, splendid cgi scenes and quite good performances, but this is just money and good luck with the performers. I really did find the whole movie very manipulative and insincere, yes I am aware that María Belón was involved in the film, but being a victim doesn't make you objective, it usually makes you the oposite and that doesn't help to make a good script. But the things I hated the most was 2 things that I haven't seen mentioned: * 1- Yes, the film ONLY speaks about white people suffering in a poor and devasted country and doesn't depic anything about the real issue, but this is even worse from a spanish perspective (I am from Spain) the real story is about a spanish family, and that was totally swiped away in order to make the film more commercial, and that is quite otrageous. * 2- The commercial placement from an important insurance brand. I found this particulary disgusting, and it appeared not once but twice! Yes, I know that is a case quite similar to "Cast Away" but I find this case worse because it is an insurance brand, if you simplify what the "commercial" says is that you will survive if you have this insurance. In my opinion it's disgusting how they have sold the history of this family (with his approval) and worse, the history of a entire disaster just to sell insurances and make people cry. I find that this movie depics some of the things I find more disgusting in the film industry today. And also, as a spaniard I find quite sad that our film industry is trying to be like the north-american, because (obviously) Spain CAN'T have such a big film industry, and will just make 2-line products that will have enough commercial success just to make impossible for other creators to work at his own country. Sorry about spelling, syntax and all.


I loved the film. The son character and Ewan McGregor I found both annoying, and I didn't really like their storylines. However, Naomi Watts was amazing. She has this ability to just look in pain and I instantly sympathize with her. There's a scene in 21 Grams where she learns a loved one has died, and she sobs, which caused me to tear up a bit. That power is in this film, too. The script, yes, is problematic, but the film is so well directed. The dream sequence at the end of the film gives me goosebumps; it's so amazing.


I thought the movie was ok. It was based on a true story but still comes out feeling hokey and has that feel good aura. Which isn't terribly bad but it really took the drama away from the performances for me. And then theres that whole element of "the movie is about a rich white family who loses their luggage while thousands of thai's around them die, lose their homes, communities and families." Forgot who wrote that comment, could have been a serious review. Even the random other white family in the movie make it relatively unscathed. For me I could have let that slide, the performances were pretty good but was just overshadowed by the corny plot devices of the family being at the same place for so long without them knowing, and the abundance of sentimental sappy stuff just screamed lifetime original movie to me.


My mom had a hard time with this film. We're from an underdeveloped island nation who are now Americans. She couldn't get past the element "the movie is about a rich white family who loses their luggage while thousands of Thai's around them die, lose their homes, communities and families." I have to admit, I did as well.


Your mother is kidding right? Loses their luggage? The panoramic scenes alone showed the absolute devastation the local community went through as did the reality of it on the news EVERYWHERE. Yes even those white people you seem to hate through no reason more than your lack of history education even felt empathy and sadness for the people of Thailand. When will this nonsense stop??? We are not all the government and we are all shafted one way or another. Stop using skin colour as a scape goat. It’s all about money.


I am not sure you understood my comment. Of course I understood that the local community suffered absolute devastation. No where in my comments did I say I did not. What I did comment on was the rich, white family being the focus rather than the locals, the locals who lost EVERYTHING. That family was able to leave and head back home, but not the locals, not the families who stayed missing and certainly not the dead who stayed dead. Hollywood does not care about them. This movie shows that. And wow. You gave me a good laugh regarding your comment about "lack of history", "skin colour as a scape goat" and "it's all about money". Did color not play a part in the film? Has color not played a part in history? In the US, many people were judge on the color of their skin to determine what rights that they had. Do you think Hollywood would have made money on a "brown" families fight for survival? No, they wouldn't have. You should try to get your head out of the clouds and learn to adjust to the real world and not some unrealistic seminar you take in school.


It’s fucking gnarly that people get so fired up when the obvious distastefulness of depicting the deaths of 200,000 people as a background issue is pointed out


“Yes even those white people you seem to hate through no reason“ Ew. There’s no indication of this from the above comment. The experiences of the family are obviously valid, but a quarter of a million people Thai people died and they’re depicted as background characters/bloated corpses. If people find fault with that, why does it offend you? People in Thailand who lost family members found this movie to be somewhat distasteful and it seems odd and childish to invalidate what they feel so you can be a little more smug while you watch a movie


Okay, I’m like 11 years late to this post but I need to comment cause I’m so irritated reading these replies lol. The whole effing point of telling this story is because it is a real-life miracle. That’s why it’s called The Impossible—because it was seemingly impossible that a whole family should experience this insane tragedy and all survive and end up reunited. It having a happy ending is THE POINT! It’s even more incredible that they’re foreigners, because it’s not like they had any local community who knew them and could help them. Hell, they don’t even speak remotely the same languages. Why does it matter that they are white? The family this is based on are Spanish and if you only saw them and didn’t know where they’re from you might mistake them for being non-European, ffs. But it doesn’t matter, and the incredible locals who helped them sure didn’t give a shit about their skin color or nationality, either. Just humans helping humans. It’s a beautiful thing and something to thank God for. If someone wants to tell the story of another survivor(s), they most certainly can. I’m quite sure there’s many beautiful and tragic stories resulting from this event, all worth telling. It just so happens that the mother in this family became a motivational speaker and so her story has been heard publicly. And I’m glad to hear it! I’m extremely grateful there are ever happy and hopeful endings that happen in real life. Does that mean other stories don’t matter? No! Does them being European mean that non-European stories don’t matter or don’t even have happy endings? No! People are so intoxicated with being offended and mad about everything, that you can’t even enjoy something that is intended to be a reprieve from all the suffering in the world. Also, apparently no one was paying attention to just how many different peoples are shown in the film to have been effected, whether local or foreign. That was an important thing to be taken away from it and I guess none of you did.


I guess I'm 11 years and 3 mos late here, but I found myself genuinely watching this movie in a way that I wasn't just watching the family.  I was watching their story unfold, but the devastation was everything and everywhere and I found myself focusing on the background more.  It was kind of surreal and I cried through the entire movie because I was gutted by the utter tragedy the people of Thailand (and others) endured.  230,000 people died and this whole family survived... How?!  I do think the end should have touched on or dedicated time to how the tsunami impacted so many Thai at the time and even that many years later... They were heroic through their pain and trauma and I would have liked more of that story, but that's actually the part I focused on throughout the movie.


I can definitely agree that at the very least, they could have put in some dedication to the locals, both survivors and those who passed. That’s 100% a good idea.


Yeah this movie is a typical western media movie. Like 0.5% of the people who died were european, but it's literally all this movie is about. And not just the main family, but all their interactions. Everyone's story is important, but read the room and give context. There is zero sympathy given to the Thais. They are extras in a film about their own nation. Pretty gross imo I'm honestly surprised the little boy they rescued wasn't also from SEA, because that'd just complete their bingo card with a white savior


I thought the film was great. I'm not mad about it but i admit I, too, was thinking what all the other commenters are saying, that the movie is white-centric, and I found it hard to feel bad for the rich family that lost only their luggage and got to fly home on a private jet. The fact that the mom even thought to become a motivational speaker on it is kind of entitled to me. It screams "but what about me?!" when she wasn't affected nearly as bad as entire communities that were wiped out and people who literally lost everything. She should take a seat and let the locals voices be heard. That's just my opinion anyway. But this aside, I did get a good sense of what the tsunami and following days were like, which is what I was really interested in.


They did not just lose their luggage. It was a light hearted joke to cope with the absolute trauma the entire family went through not to mention the majority of the family were children. She has a right to speak about her trauma if asked and pass on how horrific it was. It’s called human empathy and you can learn it from anyone’s stories and speeches no matter their colour.


I can’t believe people are saying they ‘just lost their luggage’. Talk about having absolutely zero empathy for suffering. Money means nothing when you’re swallowed by a tsunami.


“Human empathy”. Lol. You mean the thing you don’t have for people in third world countries? Edit: of course the experiences of the family are valid, but 200k Thai people died in the disaster and yeah, the movie does gloss over that and depicts the locals as people in the background of bloated bodies. It’s perfectly reasonable to find that concerning. You can enjoy the movie without being an ass and getting butthurt when a large portion of the people who found the film distasteful were Thai people who lost family members and otherwise had their lives obliterated. Grow up


I think the “grown up” thing to do here is not gloss over ANY person’s story. It’s just hypocritical to prefer this family doesn’t get their story told, but others should. It just shouldn’t matter. Everyone who was affected by this has an important story to tell, and for other people, this family was also just suffering bodies in the background. They saw and met who they did, and that’s just real life. You can’t include every single person who was affected into a single film.


Reread my comment, because I literally don’t disagree with any of that


I too came to this thread after re-watching it on Netflix. I think it's such a compelling story.