Juan Antonio Bayona
Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel
Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, Marta Etura
4 stars (out of 5)
An epic and emotional dramatisation of a family's true
account of survival against the odds in the devastating 2004
Indian Ocean tsunami. A black wall of water engulfs a young
family lazing poolside on Boxing Day and life is turned
Henry and Maria Bennett (played by Ewan McGregor and Naomi
Watts) are holidaying in Khao Lak, Thailand, with their three
sons when the unimaginable happens. The tsunami was one of
the deadliest natural disasters in history, killing up to
280,000 people and devastating Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India
Maria and her eldest son, Lucas (played by excellent young
debutante Tom Holland) are separated from the rest of the
family and survive the onslaught by scaling a tree.
A stoic Maria is rescued and hospitalised and urges Lucas to
try to help others find lost relatives.
The film is a tour de force for Watts, who picked up Academy
Award and Golden Globe nominations for best actress for her
Meanwhile, a panic-stricken Henry gets the younger two
brothers, Thomas and Simon (Samuel Joslin and Oaklee
Pendergast), to safety before searching shelters and
hospitals for Maria and Lucas. The tension is tangible as a
series of unfortunate events and close misses keep the family
separated, until the final, emotional, denouement.
Best thing: The realistic effects. Director Bayona
used real water rather than computer-generated imagery to
create the tsunami scenes and the result is impressive.
Worst thing: Indeed, it is so realistic, the two-hour
rollercoaster ride can leave the legs a bit wobbly.
See it with: Someone who doesn't get seasick.
By Nigel Benson.