In 2004, Maria Belon, her husband, Henry, and their 3 boys went on a holiday vacation to Thailand. The day after Christmas, one of the largest tsunamis ever to hit the Indian Ocean wiped out the resort area where the Belon’s were staying, separating the family and completely destroying the coastline. This is their story…and what a story it is.
Let me be as clear as I can about this movie…it will wipe you out emotionally. Considering you know going in what is about to happen, the underlying sense of dread is already in place from the beginning of the film. From there, it’s as if you are IN the waves as director Juan Antonio Bayona literally sends you tumbling with Maria (Naomi Watts) as she is tossed like a rag doll into objects, trees and other people as the tsunami washes over the coastline. It is one of the most anxiety-ridden scenes I have ever witnessed on the big screen and I can honestly say that when it was finally over, I had to take a breath of air. Post-tsunami, the movie doesn’t let up as Maria and her oldest son, Lucas (Tom Holland), must trudge through the debris and carnage, searching for their lost family members and eventually need to find help for Maria’s injuries. Amazingly, her husband Henry (Ewan McGregor), has managed to survive also and has found their 2 youngest boys holding on for dear life in the nearby trees. It is from there that the story focuses on young Lucas, as he tends to his mother in the hospital, and Henry, as he searches for his wife and son.
What is amazing about this story is that it’s 100% true. This event REALLY happened and this family survived one of the worst catastrophes in the history of Thailand. Where hundreds of people died, this family of 5 managed the impossible and they all are alive today to tell this story. Not once is this movie told in a way that makes it seem like it’s a fairy-tale ending to a terrible story. This is what went down and Bayona does an exquisite job taking you on the journey. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a movie like this. It is as extreme and emotional of any film I have ever seen and it brought me to tears a few times. It is MY opinion that THIS film is the best movie of 2012. I applaud all everyone with it, from the cinematography to the score, and I hope there are many statues handed to all involved come Oscar night!
Overall Rating: A+