Directed by: Juan Antonio Bayona
Written by: Sergio G. Sánchez (screenplay), María Belón (story)
Starring: Naomi Watts, Ewen McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast
Oscar Nominations: Best Actress (Naomi Watts)
I have included this in my Oscar list because a) Naomi Watts is one of my favourite actresses and her performance in this movie puts her at the top of my list of hopeful winners and b) how this movie was overlooked for editing or cinematography for the tsunami scene alone is beyond me. The story, based on the real events of a family ravaged by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami (one of the worst on record) while on vacation in Thailand is horrifying in its gritty camerawork and devastating in its performances.
What I liked: Naomi Watts is sensational as the mother desperately trying to stay alive for her family. Though I tried, I couldn’t help but feel her pain both physically and emotionally. The performances overall are convincing enough to hold the movie together as, aside from the exceptional and harrowing tsunami scene and the core emotion and sense of loss, there isn’t much in the way of plot to move it forward.
What I didn’t like: Critiquing this movie almost feels like criticizing actual victims of this horror which is awkward but, no matter how true, I did feel that Bayona pushed a little too hard to deliver the blood and gore reality that goes along with a natural disaster, excessively so. On the other hand, this could also be a testament to the movie’s realism. I can see why critics didn’t gush over it but I’m also a little surprised by their reserve. Granted the movie may rely on the fact that it is based on a true story but this family’s nightmare stays with you even after it’s over.
My rating: Enjoy it for its triumphant truth.
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Something I try to avoid but couldn’t resist: For those of you who have no interest in seeing a disaster drama, I highly recommend this incredible scene which is worth the price of admission alone.
Video courtesy of Pantherapardus2012