...is not a film for the faint hearted. Some of it makes for nearly-impossible viewing. That said, I think it will likely score pretty highly for filmography of motion pictures I see this year (yes, I know, it's only January). I could not bear to think too much about the special effects, or the mechanics of making a film such as this - it was far better to sit back, and go with the flow. This led to my feeling totally blown away, and utterly absorbed by the movie.
As devastating and terrifying as the scenes were, there was something greater than the total wipeout of the paradise we saw in the opening shots, something deeper, and profoundly reassuring. On leaving the cinema, I was connected to a sense that I had been reminded of the very best of human nature and resilience in the face of the worst and most dangerous of nature's atrocities.
The film might have been called The Unimaginable. But it wasn't. The tsunami arose from the depths beneath the beautiful and inviting blue destroying the seemingly serene within moments. The film depicts carnage of the kind I can usually only bear to watch short clips of on the news. Somehow, however, the direction and production brilliantly escort us on a rollercoaster like journey, through the eyes of an adolescent (brilliantly played by Tom Holland) who had come on holiday with his parents (Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts) and two younger brothers.
Pure raw emotions are stripped of any artifice, as we watch how a mother and son find themselves stranded in a hostile and alien environment. Against a background of gasps from the horrified audience, a boy becomes a man, growing up in an instant, and by necessity. He is preservation and survival instinct personified.
It is as though we have left the safety of the cinema, and been transported to be there, right there. We are rooting for a family we feel we've come to know so intimately in such brutal circumstances. We come to know the precise dimensions of the very thin line between life and death; between the holiday of a lifetime in paradise and every parent's worst nightmare.
The picture is a superb observation of familial bonds - that between a man and his wife, between a mother and her three sons, and between the three brothers, and their father. The world of the family, in which time seems to stand still as they are unbelievably reunited.
The happy ending is a long time coming and somewhat incongruous - but undoubtedly a superb advert for Zurich insurance.
"Nothing is stronger than the human spirit..."