Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a good one to see in the movie theater
for those who can handle a tough emotional ride and do not mind crying in public.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close—have the tissues handy when you come to this one. I have to admit that I am not one who easily gets teary-eyed in movies, but this one got to me. This Oscar nominated film for Best Picture by Director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours) is an emotional ride that will cut close to home for many people.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is adapted from the best seller of the same name by author Jonathan Safran Foer. The story unravels in the mind of an eleven-year-old boy named Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), who looses his father in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Oskar is an extremely smart kid for his age, but can also be pretty rude at times as well. The story says that Oskar was tested, but never definitively labeled with Asperger’s Syndrome. However, the audience sees throughout the movie that he has something along those lines.
One of Oskar’s favorite games was one that his father, Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks), created for him called Reconnaissance Expedition. It was a game made-up of problem solving and treasure hunting using clues that would make Oskar use his mind in every way that he could. It encouraged him to travel across New York City and made him talk to people – something that he did not like to do. About a year after Oskar loses his father in what Oskar calls “The Worst Day,” Oskar decides to go into his father’s closet. In the top of the closet, he discovers a blue vase with a small envelope with a key in it. The only thing written on the envelope is the word “Black.” Oskar is determined to figure out what that key unlocks and sets up his expedition – just like his dad use to do with him. After all the planning is done, he starts packing all the necessary equipment. You know, things like his Israeli gas mask, his tambourine (used to calm his nerves), Fig Newtons . . . all the essential things that a boy his age would need on his trip. He then sets off on a journey through the five boroughs of New York City, desperate for one last connection with his father.
Oskar meets hundreds of different people on his search through the city – all four hundred and seventy-two of them with the last name of “Black.” As this several-month journey continues, his relationship with his mother, Linda, (Sandra Bullock) seems to deteriorate. After having an argument with her, Oskar ends up sharing his story with his grandmother’s mysterious mute renter and ends up gaining a partner in his search. The Renter pushes him to try new things such as using public transportation and walking over wooden bridges, and Oskar soon finds a special connection with this stranger – one similar to what he only had with his Dad before.
Thomas Horn, who plays eleven-year-old Oskar Schell, is new to the film screen, but you would never know it. Horn for the most part carries the whole film on his small shoulders. He nails the role of playing an extremely smart and constantly on the edge child. Sandra Bullock plays a very different character then her typical comedic role. She plays the part of a grieving widow and a suddenly struggling single mother – a fairly small role until the end of the movie, where she becomes pivotal to the story. Tom Hanks is Oskar’s dad, Thomas Schell, whom we only see briefly in the beginning of the movie and in flashbacks to show the special bond he had with Oskar. Max Von Sydow played the role of “The Renter.” Though he never says a word, you can see the dedication and warmth he had toward Oskar. Others in the supporting cast such as Viola Davis, Zoe Caldwell and John Goodman have small roles, but do add quite a bit to the movie.
The cinematography of Extremely Loud is beautifully done. Even though the movie is filled with flashbacks, you never feel that you are lost. Every flashback has a purpose and conveys the next nugget of information to help you understand Oskar’s thinking. Stylistically the film helps you enter Oskar’s world in vivid color and sound – often times it a little overwhelming, just like he would experience it. Overall, it masterfully accomplishes its job of letting you experience Oskar’s mind.
Except for two phrases of bad words by Oskar when talking to Stan the Doorman (John Goodman) and some rude comments and behavior, again from Oskar, Extremely Loud is pretty clean language wise. There are some disturbing images from 9/11, but the movie is mainly focused on Oskar’s emotional struggle by the loss of his father from that day. We also see Oskar pinching himself and leaving marks over most of his chest and stomach, which can disturb some audience members.
Overall, this is an emotionally intense movie all the way through with very few breaks. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a good one to see in the movie theater for teens through adults that can handle a tough emotional ride and do not mind crying in public. For the ones that do mind crying in public, I would still recommend the movie. Just wait until it comes out on DVD so you can watch it in the privacy of your own home.
To learn more about author April Kruger, visit Cross Shadow Productions