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Dexter Bullard on J.A. Bayona’s ‘The Impossible’

Eye on the Oscars: The Director Preview

There is no question “The Impossible” is a standout film for director Bayona. The true story taken from the South Asian tsunami of 2004 that inspired the film brings undeniable drama, which he allows to unfold with richness and simplicity. Throughout, he holds us extremely close to the breath and bodies of the characters, so we feel as if we are more than there, it’s as if we can taste, smell and feel the temperature and texture of the surging salt water charged with undulating bodies, stabbing shards and swirling vegetation. His montage work and pacing deeply amplify the forces at play in the story — holding breath underwater, heart in the throat on a cellphone call home, wandering through the noise of overflowing hospitals or sitting beneath a starry Indonesian night sky. He coaxes highly truthful emotional and physical performances from the stellar cast with a remarkable debut for Tom Holland as a young man coming to wisdom and bravery amidst the wreckage.

Mr. Bayona has put forward a gloriously vivid and heartrending piece of romantic cinema that reminds how the only force stronger than nature is our love for our own.

Dexter Bullard made his Broadway helmer debut this season with the new play “Grace.”

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