Newest Review: ... scathing even of it but we never really find a precise answer and somehow they end up as an unlikely duo, indeed rather poignantl... more
A strange boy on a strange mission
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (DVD)
Member Name: GentleGenius
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (DVD)
Advantages: Superbly acted and directed/produced, out of the ordinary, entertaining
Disadvantages: Nothing of too much significance
RELEASED: 2011, Cert. 12
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 130 mins
DIRECTOR: Stephen Daldry
PRODUCER: Scott Rudin
SCREENPLAY: Eric Roth
MUSIC: Alexandre Desplat
Thomas Horn as Oskar Schell
Tom Hanks as Thomas Schell
Sandra Bullock as Linda Schell
Max Von Sydow as the old man
Zoe Caldwell as Oskar's Grandmother
Hazelle Goodman as Hazelle Black
Jeffrey Wright as William Black
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Taken from Jonathan Safran Foer's novel of the same name, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close tells the story of a chunk from a strange, yet very intelligent boy's life.
Oskar and his father Thomas are very close, playing discovery games with one another, a particular favourite being a make-believe hunt for the 'sixth' borough of New York which according to Thomas, was dragged away and buried.
When Thomas is tragically killed in the 9/11 Twin Towers terrorist attack, Oskar turns away from his mother, seeking solace in his grandmother who seems to understand him.
One day whilst rooting around in his late father's cupboard, Oskar accidentally smashes a vase, inside of which is a key, accompanied by a note which bears just one written word, 'Black'. Mystified as to the meaning of this cryptic note, Oskar obsessively hatches a grand master plan to try and find out if there is a lock somewhere that the key will fit.
One evening Oskar discovers his grandmother has taken in who appears to be a lodger, and the pair hesitatingly make friends. The lodger, an elderly man, is mute, being totally unable to speak, yet he communicates with Oskar through writing notes. Oskar draws the elderly man into his hunt for the lock which the key will open, beginning with paying a visit to everybody in the city of New York who has the surname Black.
That sets the scene....to learn more, you must see the film for yourself.
Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close honestly is one of the strangest films I have ever seen.....deliciously pointless, yet nonetheless entertaining and enjoyable.
I was very impressed with the acting from the whole cast, particularly that of Tom Hanks as Thomas, Oskar's father, young Thomas Horn as Oskar and Max Von Sydow as the elderly mute man whose name we never learn. I loved Tom Hanks' portrayal of a vibrant, loving and adventure-seeking father who obviously idolises his rather strange son, and until I checked the cast list during the closing credits, I honestly hadn't realised it was Hanks....he being one of my all-time favourite actors. His part in the film is relatively small compared to the rest of the cast, but his character is of extreme significance to the storyline.
I was also very impressed with Max Von Sydow's brilliant delivery of the elderly mute man who seemed fascinated by young Oskar's strange quest and wanted to help. I loved his facial expressions which ranged from wonderment to mild irritation, and bearing in mind this wasn't a speaking part, I felt Von Sydow managed to build a thoroughly intriguing, almost mesmerising character who I did feel a little sorry for at various points, simply because his age precluded him from keeping up with the energetic Oskar on a physical level. He also had to tolerate quite a lot of backchat from Oskar too....backchat which here and there bordered upon downright rudeness.
Although their parts (despite being of relevance) in the film were minor compared to the rest of the main cast, I also was impressed with the acting abilities of Hazelle Goodman and Jeffrey Wright as husband and wife Hazelle and William Black....a couple who have hit hard times in their marriage, yet still in their own way and individually offer Oskar a helping hand. Both of these characters had such beautiful speaking voices and a soft, gentle demeanour, which is something I admire.
Sandra Bullock also played her role as Linda Schell, Oskar's grieving mother, very well...a woman who felt disconnected from her son despite her efforts to get close to him, with the loss of her husband in the 9/11 tragedy driving them even further apart.
Alhough I was extremely impressed with the acting abilities of whole main cast, the absolute crowning glory in this film has to be Thomas Horn as Oskar, the highly intelligent, articulate young boy who does have some behavioural problems and is definitely not like other boys. Thomas Horn I believe was 13 or 14 when he played this role, although I'd guess the character of Oskar is intended to be aged about 10 or so. Horn has the most amazingly beautiful speaking voice with clear diction and a lovely tone, and he has utterly gorgeous eyes...a boy one day some lucky girl will be prepared to die for, he is so good-looking. Bearing in mind that Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close was only released last year (2011), I have earmarked Thomas Horn as being a potentially vibrant force within the acting world both now and in the future, so long as he continues to work in the field of cinema and dramatics. He in this film gave what I can honestly say is by far the very best performance I've ever seen by a child actor and I hope he goes far. The part of Oskar must have been a very difficult and demanding role to play, and he certainly gives it his all. I can't say that I found the fictional Oskar a particularly appealing child as a character, but I don't think anybody could have played him better than Thomas Horn. Horn admirably coped with carrying most of the film's rather complex dialogue off to perfection, plus he brilliantly portrayed the facial expressions, moods and oddities of a young boy who although not overly unpleasant for the most part, at times displays some borderline disturbing behavioural problems. Up to a point and looking back to my own childhood, I could very slightly identify with some of Oskar's idiosyncrasies, particularly his super-awareness and fear of danger and his painful intolerance of loud noises.
I can't say too much about the music because it didn't really grab me, as it was rather ordinary-sounding....mostly of a light orchestral nature.
I did find Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close a rather strange film, although I was easily drawn into the storyline and pretty much glued to the screen from start to finish. It's definitely an unusual tale of a young boy's single-minded obsession with a strange quest, yet even bearing in mind how much I enjoyed this film, I still - with hindsight - can't quite get to grips with what it was trying to convey exactly. I have come to the conclusion that it is just a piece of very well put together entertainment which perhaps doesn't have a point as such.
I believe that Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close quite likely wouldn't be everybody's cup of tea, as it has a very quirky storyline together with being one of those types of films that concentrates heavily on character development and dialogue. As far as I'm concerned, the screenplay/dialogue is perfectly constructed and I do like the somewhat offbeat situation which runs throughout. Overall, I think I was more impressed with the acting than anything....brilliant actors and a solid dialogue do it for me every time.
However, despite very much enjoying Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, I don't think it's something I'd like to see again, simply because it's one of those films whereby once you know the outcome, that's it!
I would strongly recommend this film to anybody who likes something they can get right into and lose themselves in for an hour and a half or so, but do reiterate the warning that the storyline is a bit odd, perhaps bordering on the pointless....although perhaps that's how it's meant to be.
At the time of writing, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £10.86 to £23.05
Used: from £8.99 to £21.05
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
Summary: An interesting, brilliantly constructed/acted film, but probably a watch-once-only candidate