One of the things that bothered me about Juan Antonio Bayona‘s The Impossible is that right in the middle of being carried along by tsunami currents and trying to stay afloat and not be gored or gashed, Naomi Watts is shown crying and moaning. Ditto her kids. That is not what people do when they’re struggling to stay alive.
People in serious trouble are like animals — their eyes are wide open, fierce and glaring, and their mind is always focused entirely on what to do and not to do that might avoid or prevent death, and that’s all. The weeping and all that other crap comes later, after it’s over and the person can take a breath. Watt’s moaning and wailing is entirely about “acting” — she and Bayona want the less intelligent people in the audience to understand that things are really tough and scary for her at this moment.
If anything, a person who’s succeeding at staying afloat and not drowning is likely to experience a certain exhilaration. Your’e not going to laugh or go “whoopee!”,” but it would feel awfully damn good to not be overcome by the currents and to keep your nose above water, etc. Remember that Winston Chrurchill quote about how “there is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at without result”? Same principle.