I’m not a huge fan of disaster films, but since this wasn’t an American one, I thought it may be less “over the top”. I remember the tsunami of 2004 vividly – I have a brother over there and when I woke up to the news on boxing day, I spent the next 2 hours trying to contact him. When I finally did reach him, he didn’t even know about it and thought I must have gotten mixed up about where it had taken place. I also wanted to see the film to get some idea of the scale of destruction caused by the tsunami.
The film tells the story of a Spanish family who were there at the time, though in the film they are portrayed as British. Maria [Naomi Watts] & Henry [Ewan McGregor] have taken their three young boys to Thailand for a Christmas break, arriving on Christmas eve. All goes well, the staff at the hotel are very welcoming and they settle in well, with the boys enjoying the beach and pools.
However it all goes wrong on boxing day. They are playing in the pool and Maria is just about to settle down with her book, when there is a roar in the distance, getting closer, then trees start to fall over. Before anyone has a chance to try and move to safety the wave overwhelms the hotel, and smashes through everything, taking people, trees, furniture and cars with it.
This part of the film is very well done. I found myself holding my breath as Maria and her eldest son, Lucas, were swept underwater and injured by the many bits of debris in the water. Then when they finally reach dry land and assess their injuries, they climb a tree just in case another wave comes along. Eventually, some local people come along and take them to hospital. Maria has lost a lot of blood and has a couple of serious injuries. Lucas got off relatively lightly with a number of cuts and scratches.
Once at the hospital, the scale of the disaster can be seen by the many people suffering similar injuries to Maria. Many people are their not knowing where the other members of their families are or whether they have survived.
This film shows the generosity and selflessness of the Thai people, who despite their own terrific losses went out to help the tourists and take them to safety. It also demonstrates the the result of the disaster, how difficult it was to deal with and how horrific it must have been for those involved, not knowing where their loved ones were.
I had hoped to see more of the geography to get more idea of the scale of the disaster and was a wee bit disappointed that it didn’t. However the film is about one family, so that is to be expected.
As I say, not a huge fan of disaster films, and there were times when I felt the overplayed the emotional bit, thought I daresay the reality was a lot more emotional. But this was quite well done.