The blunt force and emotional trauma inflicted upon the audience by up and coming auteur Juan Antonio Bayona is not just formidable, but unforgettable, in his indelible, ultimately transcendent The Impossible.
Bolstered by career-high performances by Ewan McGregor and especially the incandescent Naomi Watts, the true story of the effect on a British family vacationing in the tropics by a tragic hurricane is rendered otherworldly yet familiar by this talented helmer. From the tour-de-force opening, reminiscent of Clint Eastwood's masterful Hereafter, to its immersive, painful body, up to an emotionally shattering climax rivaled this fall by only two other films, yet in different ways: Bigelow's masterful Zero Dark Thirty and especially Haneke's masterpiece Amour, Bayona's is a work of pure humanism, disaster by way of Renoir.
Oscar Faura's camerawork is a thing of trembling beauty, remarkable in its fragility and texture; Fernando Velazquez delivers an original score that serenades the narrative perfectly, balance, nuance, and heart all woven into the wondersome notes.
Upon leaving the theater, what stuck with me most about this remarkable film aside from its integrity and honesty, devoid of all exploitation, was Watts' fearless performance, a piece of acting so in tune with its containing body, that synergy was inescapable. Aside from the brave turns by Jessica Chastain and Emmanuelle Riva in the aforementioned films of the same season, Naomi Watts grants us her pure gifts in one of the best performances of the year.
Also, the fact that Bayona is a truly gifted narrative artist with the best intentions to match his best results. Near perfect, his picture shows all that even Hollywood can make a true film still; it's roundly possible.