Oaklee Pendergast

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J.A. Bayona’s film The Impossible is based on the true story of a Spanish family who survived the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami as they were taking a Christmas vacation at a Thailand resort. We know from real life and from the film’s trailer that the whole family survives, and while separated by the disaster, eventually find their way back to each other – so giving that piece of information away in this review isn’t a spoiler, per se. And the film doesn’t hinge on that piece of information, it’s more concerned with the power of each family members’ individual wills to find each other and survive until they do. The film features some great acting performances, though its direction is sometimes a mixed bag of manipulative melodrama and suspenseful moments of dread. Changed from a Spanish to an English family in the film, the Bennetts are a well-off family living in Japan. Henry (Ewan McGregor) is a businessman whose job is perhaps in jeopardy and his wife Maria (Naomi Watts) is a doctor who has taken some time off to raise their three sons, Lucas (Tom Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oaklee Pendergast). They try to set all family tensions aside as they take a family vacation to an exclusive resort in Thailand for Christmas. When spending some time poolside one afternoon, the tsunami suddenly strikes, leaving a severely injured Maria with Lucas, and Henry with the youngest two children. The film nearly occurs in two sections: the first […]

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Aural Fixation - Large

It is devastating whenever something tragic and unexpected happens, but when tragedy hits during the holidays, normally a time of celebration and good cheer, the impact seems even greater. As a nation, we know this feeling all too well due to the recent events in Connecticut, but this was sadly not the first time an unthinkable event occurred during a time when people are usually focusing on giving thanks and looking back over the year. In 2004, a deadly tsunami hit the coast of South East Asia, demolishing buildings, land, and people caught in its path. While this kind of natural event is much different than the harm caused by a person, the emotions related to suddenly losing, or being separated from, loved ones become the universal tenants of these awful situations. The images and stories that came out in the wake of this tsunami spoke for themselves, but The Impossible adds a personal touch by taking audiences inside the experience through the real life story of a family who was vacationing over the holidays in Thailand when the unthinkable struck and their lives were forever changed. The idea of a family being physically separated by powers beyond their control is enough to bring out one’s emotions and get your pulse racing which makes the task of a composer, in this case Fernando Velázquez, all the more daunting because music is not necessary to conjure up the emotions being felt and displayed on screen.

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The Impossible

The ocean is a beautiful and terrifying body of nature that can both entice and trap. Anyone who has been caught in a riptide or had an unexpected wave suddenly crash over their heads knows the power of the ocean, and the fear it can cause if it overtakes you. When the tsunami hit Southeast Asia in 2004, we all saw the devastation that disaster caused to the area and heard about the lives lost and families torn apart because of it. Based on a true story, The Impossible goes a step further and actually takes us into the experience through the eyes of a family on an idyllic vacation that suddenly gets turned on its head. Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) have traveled to Thailand with their three sons Lucas (Tom Holland), Simon (Oaklee Pendergast), and Thomas (Samuel Joslin) to spend the Christmas holiday at a luxurious resort making their biggest question whether they want to swim in the resort’s pool or the nearby ocean. The day after Christmas the entire family is out by the pool, playing and relaxing, when the tsunami hits, proving to be as unexpected as it is relentless.

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