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
An Extremely Strange and Incredibly Insightful film
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (DVD)
Member Name: sbw80
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (DVD)
Advantages: Fantastic acting and great story
Disadvantages: The pieces don't quite fit together
Please note, this review is of the film only.
Oskar Schell is a nine year old boy living in New York with his parents Thomas and Linda, his Grandmother living in an apartment opposite. Oscar comes across as slightly autistic, in that he has set patterns and doesn't understand social norms (He reminds me a bit of Christopher from Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). In order to attempt to overcome Oskar's shyness and difficulty relating to other people, his father invents little adventures for Oskar to complete, exploring the people and places of New York in order to discover the mysterious 'sixth borough' which disappeared many years ago.
When Thomas dies in the collapse of the World Trade Centre in September 2011, Oskar uses a key he finds as a link to his father a way to deal with his grief and resist facing the emotions that risk tearing him apart. The only clue given is the word 'Black' printed on the envelope and so Oskar must overcome his many fears (Which have increased considerably since 9/11) to start a new adventure to track down Black, to find the lock that the key fits and thus feel closer to his father. Through his adventure, he discovers new experiences and people across New York, builds a relationship with 'the renter', the mysterious man who cannot speak due to his own childhood trauma of death of his parents during World War II.
Oskar Schell - Thomas Horn (First film, currently in two movies to be released in 2013)
Thomas Schell - Tom Hanks (Saving Private Ryan, Forest Gump, The Terminal)
Linda Schell - Sandra Bullock (Crash, The proposal, The Blind Side)
The Renter - Max von Sydow (Minority Report, The Exercist, Shutter Island)
Abby Black - Viola Davis (The Help, Doubt)
Stan the Doorman - John Goodman (Roseanne, The Artist)
William Black - Jeffrey Wright (Source Code, James Bond)
Thomas Horn is an amazing find and acts brilliantly in the role especially considering this is his first acting job. After a national search to find the right boy to play Oskar Schell, Horn was discovered due to an appearance on a Kids Week version of the US game show Jeopardy! (He won $31,800). He really gives the character an emotional depth and is believable in doing so. For someone at his age who has never acted before to hold a film together as well as he does is very impressive.
Although I am a big Tom Hanks fan I have to say that I don't live him in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. He's not in the film long so it really isn't that big of an issue but to me he seemed like an amalgamation of previous roles, I kept expecting him to get stuck on an Island or start looking for Dan Brown to ask what his character does next. Although a lot of his previous roles have been similar I normally forget previous roles and get immersed in his currently character but in this film he remained Tom Hanks to me, not Oskar's father Thomas Schell.
I have to say that I love John Goodman as Stan the Doorman, a small but genuinely funny role that provides for some light entertainment in the film. Casting Goodman as this character was genius. Sandra Bullock pretty much takes a back sit in this film, when she is evident her acting is pretty good (It's great that she's not afraid to look old or tired, it annoys me when film stars refuse to look their age). Max von Sydow is excellent as 'the renter', it's clear to see why he won his award for best supporting actor. His face can tell you all you need to know without him having to speak a word. The actors who play Mr and Mrs Black are also very good.
The film is based upon a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer which has won a number of awards. As of yet I haven't read it, I've just ordered it for my kindle. He has also written another novel called Everything Is Illuminated, about a young American Jew who journeys to Ukraine in search the woman who saved his grandfather's life during the Nazi liquidation of Trachimbrod, which I've just ordered to as it sounds really interesting.
I do generally like to read a novel first before watching any film adaptations as I always find that characters are provided with much more story in the paper version. I'm hoping that The Renter is more developed in the novel as although Max von Sydow portrayed him brilliantly I don't fell as if we were given the full story.
I try to not watch films that have the events of 9/11 as part of a subplot as I think it's difficult to create films that deal with the aftermath of high profile horrific events, such as 9/11. So much is known already and the result is often a movie that is over sentimental or unsympathetic rather than realistic. I do think that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close manages to come close to the right balance, perhaps achieved through using a child as the key perspective and through having such a good actor playing that role.
The film is gritty and realistic and yet at times I did feel as detached from the film as Oskar does from real life. The acting is exceptional, with a few exceptions, it has a great story and it deals with grief, loss, love and relationships in an insightful and thought provoking way and yet for me there was something not quite right. All of the pieces were there for an exceptional film and yet it is like someone put some of the jigsaw pieces in the wrong place. Hopefully reading the novel will complete some of the gaps, I would recommend watching it though.
Runtime: 129 Minutes
This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.
Summary: Will make you think but may leave somewhat frustrated without knowing the reason why