By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
The true story of a Spanish family who survived the direct onslaught of the 2004 Tsunami in Thailand is given the big-screen treatment. The Belon family is spending Christmas at an oceanside resort when the waves hit, tearing the family miles apart from each other. As they try to make sense of what happened to them, the struggle to find each other begins…
About 280,000 people died in the Tsunami
You’d almost think the filmmakers staged a full blown Tsunami to film the disaster sequences. The scenes when the storm hits are beautifully shot, capturing the feel of nature at its least forgiving. As people cling desperately to whatever few objects aren’t being swept ashore, the camera lingers briefly on shots of the madness before moving on to the film’s main characters. Later as the waves subside, the filmmakers managed a miracle of production design, creating acres of wave-crushed wasteland for the film’s characters to traverse.
Ewan McGregor is solid as the father desperately in search of his wife, played by Naomi Watts. Watts’ character is the most severely injured of the family, with a torn-up leg and half-severed breast, and solidly portrays every stage of her injuries, as well as a mother who feels she should do more to help out, but is no longer physically able to do so. But the real acting credit should go to young Tom Holland, who plays Lucas, the oldest child. Lucas finds his mother early after the Tsunami, and after realizing the full intensity of her injuries, takes it upon himself to take care of her. It is a heartbreaking performance from a young talent, and I’m looking forward to seeing more from him in the future, like young Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun.
This boy indeed would someday grow up to be
One of the difficulties of basing a film on a true story is that of forced drama. There are moments in this film that reek of manipulative filmmaking, such as scenes where characters “just miss” finding one-another, due to circumstances of chance. Also, the dialog, particularly in the scenes prior to the Tsunami, have some groan-worthy moments that feel truly out of place in a major movie. (Ok, well technically that describes every Michael Bay film… but you get the point) Fortunately, the dialog improves as the film goes on, or at least the acting improves; perhaps the presence of such starkly terrible surroundings inspired everyone.
Even in the background of this movie you might see one or two Thai actors amongst a wave of White people (Pun intended). It seems like Thailand has more White people than Uncle Ben’s has rice.
Here’s a fun fact for you: Thailand has a lot of Thai people. (True story)
Seriously effective moments, hampered by occasionally forced dramatics.
Take a Drink: when someone loses someone
Take a Drink: for maudlin dramatics
Drink a Shot: anytime someone says “Just close your eyes and think of something nice”