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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
Honorably concocted fictionalization looses some steam with extended dilemmas
This acceptable dramatization to the horrific Tsunami tragedy of late 2004, under-examined still in the States with mind boggling statistics recalling something out of a biblical nightmare, does a fine job at capturing many different perspectives witnessing and withering to global catastrophe, however protracted and misaligned the dignified project can be. In reliable HBO fashion, the made for TV film barely feels like it, boasting arresting production, reliable performances, and a well rounded script. What does misfire though, is a prolonged detailing of these painful aftereffects, even worse when split up on two separate DVD's while only clocking in just over 3 hours. In keeping with the original miniseries, a bland DVD transfer only illustrates an awkwardly resolute second part over the first part's initial effectiveness.
Starting with the brief but frighteningly executed Tsunami itself, the film proceeds to detail 4-5 different characters amidst the chaos for it's remaining 3 hours, utilizing plenty of research to intertwine a few fairly developed narratives of varied and conflicting natures to disturbing effect. The result at times feels necessary though in time merely competent. Although a wide array of perspective lends to a sensitive portrayal of so much horrific fallout for all those involved with this unprecedented event, any initial universal appeal the soulful disaster piece warrants became overshadowed by the disappointingly connected subplots insistence to overstay their welcome (and become more Babel then needed). The fact also remains that despite Thailand being represented in the film, the principal characters are a Western filter to understanding this tragedy that is assumed to be more engaging to your typical American television surfer. Anyone who would not feel insulted at it's slightly sensational leanings then should feel enlightened by a detailed, multifaceted chronicle that should remain the definitive movie on the event.
It does feel stretched out (getting the first disc is satisfying enough, though would definitely leave a few cliffhangers), but for the haunting location set design alone, Tsunami: The Aftermath will help take comfortable, middle-class citizens into the heart of physical and emotional loss with a click of their remote.
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