It’s difficult to get your movie out there in the thick of the awards race, but especially so this year with so many great films trying to push through a few very small holes. It takes a big star to get attention – which is why, around this time of year, they are brought out to help films that are struggling. A big star will always draw a crowd. The bigger the better. Here is Guy Lodge reporting the Jolie Impossible screening:
Jolie: “What the filmmakers have done, they have made [the tsunami], through this one family’s story, personal. We feel like we are in it and we travel through it, and it changes us. That is quite an extraordinary thing and I think that is due to the brilliance and the elegance of the script by Sergio Sanchez. You can see the detail and the care that he took when you watch this, and the respect for this family and all of the families involved. When you take a true story like this, to handle it with such delicacy is really to be commended. It is also masterfully directed by J.A. Bayona, and there will be many scenes where you will be sitting here watching it thinking, ‘How did they do that? That is insane! I don’t understand.’ I was asking them myself and they said, ‘Don’t you know? Aren’t you an actor?’ And I said, ‘It is just beyond imagination.’
“The true testament of any film is what you walk away with, and I think in this film you walk away with more empathy, with a greater sense of connection to your fellow man, and you want to run home and hug your kids, and tell the people you love that you love them. There is no greater message and this is an extraordinary film.”
Lodge: “Beyond imagination” is apt choice of words: it’s the film’s skill in realizing an experience effectively unimaginable to anyone but its survivors that distinguish it from the rest of the prestige pack this season — as physical, sensation-based filmmaking, it bears comparison with the work of Spielberg and Cameron. Summit has posed themselves a challenge by releasing “The Impossible” in the thick of December, but if enough Academy members make time to watch it, many of them will find themselves as profoundly affected as Jolie.
I had a brief chat with McGregor, and seeing him in typically genial, relaxed mode only highlighted how contrastingly frayed and beaten he is in the film; he described it as the most challenging work of his career. McGregor has, of course, never been recognized by the Academy — partly, I suspect, because he excels at playing everymen. As a natural movie star, his best performances tend to look easier than they are: he was as worthy as his Oscar-winning co-star Christopher Plummer in “Beginners,” for example, but it was an evocation of anguish too subtle — too casual, even — to register with voters. In “The Impossible,” he’s crying out louder — let’s see if they hear him this year.