You don't have to be a parent to appreciate the horror, the challenge and the determination involved in the story of The Impossible -- or to be plunged into the mindset of "What would I have done?"
But if you are, you'll have an extra appreciation for what the characters in this film go through -- and the ferocity of the effort they make.
Based on a true story, this film like Juan Antonio Bayona may be the year's most harrowing film. You're holding your breath almost from the start and gripped with tension until the end.
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play Maria and Henry, parents of three young children -- the oldest, Lucas (Tom Holland), looks about 10 or 11 -- who travel to a resort in Thailand to spend the Christmas holidays. But it happens to be 2004 -- and, on the day after Christmas, the coast is destroyed by the worst tsunami to hit in the country's history.
Bayona initially stays with Maria and Lucas, who spot each other as they are being swept along by the rush of water and debris. It's touch-and-go, but they manage to keep their heads above water and find their way into a tree.
Once the waters subside, they have to focus on their situation. Maria has been badly injured, though she's powering through to make sure Lucas gets to safety. But they have no idea what's happened to Henry and the other two boys.