After seeing trailers of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, I really did not know what to expect with this film. Was it going to be a wild goose chase? Was it going to be an emotional roller coaster? Was it going to be a coming of age story? Was it going to place too big a focus on the September 11 tragedy? In truth, it was a nice combination of all of these, creating an interesting and sad journey through a traumatized boys life.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is the story of Oskar Schell and his journey to stay connected to his father Thomas, who died in the World Trade Center during the September 11 terrorist attacks. Oskar is a unique and curious boy, and he possibly is afflicted with Aspergers syndrome. Young actor Thomas Horn tackles a very difficult and emotional role with his first ever appearance on the big screen. Seeing the film, you would never guess that Horn had never acted in a major film before…like ever. The kid put on an inspiring and passionate performance and showed us a side to the 9/11 story that we had never really seen in film before, a child’s perspective.
The movie took you on quite the ride, never really staying in one place for very long. One of the scenes that was shot in the same location for the longest time was following Oskar’s discovery that his father (played by Tom Hanks) had in fact died in the attacks. It was a difficult scene to watch as he laid under his bed curled up in a ball as both his grandmother and mother (played by Sandra Bullock) came in to try to talk to him. Other than this and a few others, most of the movie was you following Oskar on one of his adventures, one of his journies to hang on to his fathers spirit. He compared his fathers love and spirit to the sun, saying the sun could explode and we wouldn’t know about it on earth for eight minutes, because that’s the time it takes for the sunlight to arrive. Oskar wanted his dad’s eight minutes to last and he did this by going on one final adventure given to him by his father.
Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock played Oskar’s parents, and although that seems like some serious star power, their inclusion in this film really wasn’t a huge selling point. The story and Oskar’s journey to regain some sanity in his life were what made it. Oskar wanted to hold on to his dad, and did so with his final adventure, centered around a mysterious key. He spent weeks trying to track down a lock that his key opened and did so by traveling the five boroughs of New York City with every free moment he had.
Couple his journey with a struggling relationship with his mourning mother, a strange old man who is his grandmother’s tenant and his mental issues and young Oskar had quite a wild ride. The acting was great, and with a cast including Hanks, Bullock and legend Max von Sydow, I didn’t expect anything less. Thomas Horn’s acting was a treat and he really made the movie as enjoyable as it was.
The September 11 tragedy was a very difficult time for every American, especially New Yorkers. And I know this is just a movie, but you really felt the pain of the Schell family, and mainly Oskar. We have seen the images from that terrible day countless times, but every time I see a picture or video of the Towers smoldering, I still get goosebumps. It is a very eery feeling and this film gave me that throughout. There were chilling scenes and flashbacks that were very hard to watch, and if you or anyone you know was directly effected by the tragedy I would imagine it would be a difficult film to sit through. It brought a totally new perspective on the tragedy, a near total focus on a child and his reaction. The story, acting and dramatic/tragic memories being stirred make this a true roller coaster of a movie, one that I would recommend to anyone.
As the movie ended and the credits began to roll, the entire (crowded) theatre remained seated and absolutely silent. It was an odd, yet appropriate reaction to a powerful, emotional and inspiring movie.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: 7/10