Extremely Loud & Incredibly CloseWritten by administrator
The story takes place in New York, but also in the young mind of Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn),a precocious eleven year old who collects random trivia, incessantly plays the tambourine and - as we learn through the course of the film - is possibly afflicted with Asperger Syndrome. When Oskar loses his father (Tom Hanks) during the 9/11 World Trade Center bombings, he loses the most central emotional pillar of his life, and struggles to find hope to cling on to. The opportune discovery of a key in his deceased father's belonging sets him on an urban quest to find the lock it will open, and lead him to cross paths with various strangers across New York's five boroughs, themselves survivors in their own own.
It is this reviewer's humble opinion that what matters in films such as these is not slavish adherence to realism so much as emotional authenticity. If one were to take such a standard as one's benchmark of measure, the film rings very true indeed. Like it source material, the film sidesteps the greater issues of the tragedy it portrays, focusing on the emotional trauma experienced by those who have lost loved ones in 9/11.
Unfortunately, the film also faces the daunting task of translating the emotional nuances of the original novel's characters into a more visual medium, and Daldry's efforts are mixed at best. The film is well shot and evocatively scored, but despite his precociousness, child actor Thomas Horn is unable to evoke sympathy in his innately unloveable character, a critical flaw in a character-driven film.
Thankfully, veteran actor and Academy Award Nominee Max Von Sydow provides some much needed chemistry with Horn, in his role as the mysterious Renter. Honorable mention also goes to Sandra Bullock, who plays Oskar's mother with a quiet dignity to her grief.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a movie that straddles authenticity and mawkish sentimentality, occasionally falling off the wrong end. Ultimately though, the movie manages to achieve a touching exploration of the ways individuals cope with grief.
Summary: A paean to loss with several sour notes, but a touching conclusion.