I was not sure I would ever see this movie. My gut reaction when I initially saw the trailer for this was “it’s too soon!”. I wasn’t sure if Hollywood could take this real life situation of the 2004 tsunami and not turn it into a crass disaster movie. However even I had to admit that the special effects of the tsunami were impressive and the reviews I read were mostly positive so I decided to give it a go, and I’m glad I did.
The Bennet family are spending Christmas in Thailand when the tsunami hits their beach hotel and they are separated from each other. They must try to survive the tsunami and find each other amid the devastation left in its wake. The film is based on the true story of the Belon family.
I was crying practically during the whole film. I think this was mostly to do with the fact it’s based on true events and ones that only happened nine years ago. The scenes that probably made me cry the most were the small moments in the film. A little boy stroking Maria Bennet’s (Naomi Watts) hair, a group of local Thai women giving Maria a top after her clothes are torn, a man allowing Henry (Ewan McGregor) to use his phone even though he’s saving the power to find his own missing family.
Director J.A Bayona has done a fantastic job with this film, more sensitively handled than I expected The scenes of the tsunami are breathtakingly horrific and the injuries sustained by the characters are not glossed over. Maria hasn’t been given a Hollywood gloss-she looks appropriately terrible with her cuts and injuries shown in gruesome detail. However the film doesn’t come across as sensationalism or exploiting what has happened. It was also good that the film made a point of showing the local Thai people who went in to help families and individuals after the tsunami hit.
It still bothers me that the family, who are Spanish, have been changed to a British one. But at least the film has gathered actors who handle the roles sensitively and the acting is top class, as you would expect from Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts (fully deserving her best actress nomination). Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast are exceptionally good as the Bennet’s three young sons. Special praise has to go to Tom Holland who plays their eldest son Lucas, and was breaking my heart throughout the entire film. I have a feeling he’ll be someone to look out for in the future.
Rating 4/5- A harrowing but breathtaking film filled with wonderful performances.