The enormous waves that battered that country (and many others) on December 26 are staggeringly staged by director J.A. Bayona (2007’s The Orphanage) — a feat of dubious distinction. (Does verisimilitude to actual disaster serve any purpose besides, as Susan Sontag wrote, allowing “one [to] participate in the fantasy of living through one’s own death”?) Separated from Henry and the two younger children, Maria — trailing pools of blood from a muscle-deep gash as she deliriously trudges through brackish water — and the oldest son, Lucas (Tom Holland), eventually make it to a chaotic hospital. These horrors, and the absorbing performances of Watts and McGregor, will soon be undermined by a surfeit of sentiment.
Jan. 4-10, 2013