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Stars: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Geraldine Chaplin, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, Douglas Johansson, Marta Etura
Director: Juan Antonio Bayona
This true story of a holidaying family - here English but originally Spanish - caught up in the tsunami that hit the south Asian coast in 2004 is at times grim, harrowing and moving. The director, however, is somewhat hampered by the inevitable lack of variety in settings. The vast makeshift hospital for victims is immaculately re-created, but there's simply too much time spent there, as 12-year-old Lucas (Holland) sits by his badly injured mother (Watts), hoping she'll make it.
Unknown to them, the father (McGregor) and two younger sons have also survived and, reluctantly putting the boys on a truck bound for the mountains, he sets out to search for his wife and older son.
The tsunami itself is remarkably well staged and will have you gasping for breath at the sudden ferocity of it all. Watts is terrific, the boys are all more than competent , and a blast from the past in Geraldine Chaplin crops up as an elderly woman who discusses stars with the middle son.
It is, though, enervating here and there in spite of the tragedy being re-enacted before our eyes. Best moment: when Lucas finds a boy whose father has been desperately searching for him in the vastness of the hospital, and sees the two reunited.
Spain/UK/USA/Thailand 2012. UK Distributor: Entertainment One. Colour by deluxe.
111 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.
Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.
Review date: 27 Dec 2012