Few films grab my attention for a full two hours, but The Impossible accomplishes this feat with ease. Based on the true story of a Spanish family on vacation in Thailand during the devastating 2004 tsunami, the movie hits the difficult balance between realism and brilliant cinematography. The story follows the family as it is ripped apart by the disaster, focusing on the sheer power of the human spirit as a mother finds her son, a husband searches for his wife, and a boy is reunited with his younger brothers. To say The Impossible is a tearjerker would be a vast understatement. Naomi Watts plays the boys’ mother, Maria, with bravery in the face of injury and loss. Even as wounds cripple her body, her spirit and hope remain. During the scene where the tsunami hits, the fearful viewers sit on the edge of their seats anxiously waiting to know what will happen next. When Maria and her oldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) reconnect, everyone breathes a quick sigh of relief until they realize that the rest of the family remains separated. The integrity of this film is found in each actor as he demonstrates the intensity and truth found in these deep characters. The audience can’t help but feel the characters’ pain and joy — even to the point of crying along with them. Holland, just 15 years old during filming, redefines the role of loyal son. While aiding his mother’s recovery, his true colors shine through. Despite Holland still being a vulnerable boy afraid of seeing blood, he finds the strength to help his mother as she battles her injuries. Watts, nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Maria, plays her role alongside Holland superbly as she vigorously fights against outside forces. Her on-screen husband (Ewan McGregor) plays the role of persevering spouse with great skill — even creating one of the most heart-wrenching scenes of the film when he, after a long courageous battle to find his family, crumbles emotionally. The Impossible is not a story of devastation or tragedy, but rather one of hope and the strength of familial love. The visuals are so realistic and the sounds so intense that you feel as though you’re a part of the movie. The Impossible takes you on a journey with the characters, and, though you can feel the family’s sadness in separation, you can also feel the happiness in their reunion. But it is the reality of this true story that hits home. As you remember the truth behind the plot, you find yourself awed and inspired — feelings that audiences only get from out-of-this-world fantastic films.