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Paulette P. Williams
A tale of personal loss, survival and hope, TSUNAMI, THE AFTERMATH follows a group of fictional characters whose lives are irrevocably transformed by the cataclysmic natural disaster. Among those whose stories are followed are: a young couple searching for their child; a Thai survivor who loses his family and tries to prevent developers from seizing the land his village is built on; an Englishwoman whose husband and son are missing; an ambitious reporter; a relief worker; an overwhelmed British official whose faith in the system is torn apart; and a leading Thai meteorologist, whose earlier report detailing the inevitability of a tsunami hitting the affected area was ignored. Written by
Mostly good film with Ejiofor and Okonedo providing fantastic performances at the emotional heart
A group of European scuba divers are out at sea off the coast of Thailand on Boxing Day 2004. They return to the shore to find destruction as far as they can see, an ocean full of bodies and no sign of the loved ones they left behind. Meanwhile, on the shore itself the survivors of the tidal wave flee for higher ground for fear of a second wave hitting. As the authorities struggle to return some sense of order or control, the survivors try to find their missing relatives whether they are dead or alive.
I wasn't sure about whether to watch this or not because I found it difficult to imagine how a film could adequately capture the sheer sense of horror and the loss of so many hundreds of thousands of lives. And of course, having watched it, the film doesn't really ever manage to give the viewer a sense of how destructive and devastating the disaster was. Of course this is not really the fault of the film but it is generally just difficult to picture that many people dead and difficult to look at footage of missing villages and understand what happened. So this leaves the film to try and deliver it the best it can and fill the film with a handful of characters that can be followed from pre-disaster into the aftermath of the title.
In doing this it was never going to be perfect but it does build a cross section of characters and also deal with the emotional impact of the disaster as well as the organisational nightmare that followed as well as the inevitable search for someone to blame or be angry at. The film doesn't manage to do all of these well and indeed some of the threads fall flat; Tim Roth's journalist as an example of one aspect that could have been scaled back a bit. The result of it trying to do a lot is that the film is a bit too long and does feel baggy at some points. The strongest thread is that of the couple played by Ejiofor and Okonedo. They convey the emotions of those who have lost relatives without knowing if they are dead or alive. This part is engaging because of their performances both of which are wonderful and painfully convincing. Their relationship is real before and after and it hurts to watch what they go through they are the heart of the film and, although they are European, they embody the loss and pain. The Peabody's (McKee et al) and Machielsen's Tan do this as well but it is not as raw and emotional. The rest of the cast are left with the other material to work with and they all mostly do good work. For all his character's relative unimportance, Roth still does well and he does provide a glue to hold the bigger picture together. Bonneville and Collette provide the organisational side with teeth and meaningful performances.
Although the plot wanders a bit in the second half, this film still has enough about it to engage and move. Occasionally baggy it is mostly interesting and holds the attention. The cast are mostly good but the emotional heart of the film is wonderfully delivered by two guttingly real performances from Ejiofor and Okonedo.
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