ewan mcgregor

The Impossible (2012) Review | Jamie Daily

The Impossible (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
4/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Actress (Naomi Watts).
Watched March 27, 2014.


I try to stay away from descriptions of the movies coming up on my list, but I vaguely knew that The Impossible was about a tidal wave.  In this film, a tourist family is vacationing in Thailand for Christmas and is caught in the 2004 tidal wave that devastated Thailand and other locations connected to the Indian Ocean.


Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons are given a short introduction that gives a small foundation of who they are as a family and a little of who they are as individuals.  There is a quietness in the beginning of the film that forebodes the events coming up.  The tsunami hits pretty quickly into the film and the scenes that follow don’t hold back.  The intensity of the raging waters is matched by the ferocious survival instincts of the family.


It is hard to give a synopsis of this film because I would really like to not spoil it.  I will simply say that people get split up very easily in the chaos of an emergency situation and finding each other again is almost as terrifying as the disaster itself.  The Thai people carry the wounded, clothe the naked, and rush strangers to overflowing hospitals in the backs of trucks.


The acting is phenomenal.  There are sequences that are a little drawn out and melodramatic, but the intensity of the film calls for that.  The brief moments of relief are a breather, but really I did not breathe properly or stop crying until the credits were over.


Is The Impossible the best made film?  No.  The acting is either excellent or acceptable.  The editing and therefore storytelling is good for the most part.  The melodrama gets a bit much and can be frustrating.  Despite all of that, it is a really good view into a disaster situation and how it affected this real family, whom the story is loosely based around.  I have been a huge fan of McGregor since he was in Star Wars and I was very happy when I found out he was in this film.


If you have the time and the emotional stamina, I would highly recommend this film.  Come prepared with tissues and a shoulder to cry on.

Beginners (2010) Review | Jamie Daily


Beginners (2010)
84th Academy Awards 2012
2/5 Stars
Nominated for 1 award, which it won.
Won Supporting Actor (Christopher Plummer).
Watched November 3, 2012.

There were bits and pieces of this film that I really enjoyed, but the rest of it was a significant let down.  The only things I knew going into watching it were that Christopher Plummer must have given an amazing performance to beat my favourite competitor, Jonah Hill, and that it must be awesome if only for the sake of Ewan McGregor being the main character.


It was not awesome.


After reading reviews, I wanted very much for the film to be a success.  It is an adaptation of the life of the director, Mike Mills, whose father came out to him shortly before he passed away while Mills had yet to direct his first film.

Hal Fields (Plummer), a 75 year old man whose wife passed recently has finally come out to his son and wants to experience life as a homosexual after playing straight for forty plus years.  Back in the 50s, being a homosexual was considered a mental illness, so Georgia (Mary Page Keller) offered to “fix” him by getting married.  They loved each other, but it was different, and now that Oliver (McGregor) knows the truth, he looks back on his mom’s bitterness and his dad’s half hearted goodbye-kisses in a different light.


Watching his dad explore, dress differently, learn new phrases, and experience having a younger boyfriend is not enough for poor Oliver, but the devastating news of stage four cancer clinches it.  Oliver, who is surprisingly supportive and unquestioningly encouraging of his dad’s new lifestyle choices, is constantly at his dad’s side through his last years.


If that was the entire plot, it would have possibly won me over.  Beginners employs one of my favourite techniques–a non-linear timeline. However, in this case, I feel as if it was used poorly.  The real time events are a few months after Hal has passed.  Oliver’s character is fairly one note, and even when he finds himself in a new relationship with a Jewish French girl, the cutesie bits and supposed personal emotional dysfunctions aren’t very believable or romantic.  It isn’t exactly presented as a relationship that you root for or grow emotionally attached to–it’s just there, an unnecessary timeline that doesn’t lend to the story of Hal, but rather distracts.  This is a hard thing to say about McGregor, who is one of the great actors of our time, but unfortunately I was very disappointed, not in his acting but in the flat character he was given.


My favourite character by far was Arthur, Hal’s precious Jack Russell Terrier.  He is very needy, but his relationship with Oliver and others is very real.  Oliver speaks to him as if he were human and you can almost hear Arthur speaking back through his expressive eyebrows.  He goes everywhere with Oliver because if he is left alone he begins crying immediately.  After Hal passes, he is a constant companion to Oliver, and is present in most scenes after the death.


To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend Beginners for most people.  The dog was cute, and for that I might be convinced to watch the film again.  Plummer’s performance was of course very good, but it has been suggested that he may have won for his body of work and not necessarily for this film alone.  This controversial topic alone might be inspiration enough for you to see the film and judge for yourself.


Sources: Seongyong’s Private PlaceInspired GroundIMDBRotten TomatoesNY TimesThe GuardianEvery Oscar EverJohn Likes Movies