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
Extremely Brave and Incredibly annoying?
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (DVD)
Member Name: thedevilinme
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (DVD)
Date: 11/04/13, updated on 11/04/13 (64 review reads)
Advantages: Interesting ideas
Disadvantages: Badly executed
Genre - Drama
County - USA
Certificate - PG13
Run Time - 129 minutes
Awards - 2 Oscar nominations
Blockbusters - £.0 per night rental
Amazon - £5.00 DVD (£8.75 Blue Ray)
So 10 years on from 911 and we have Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, directed by Stephen Daldry and only the second September 11 movie to be nominated for an Oscar, United 93 being the first, both British directed films. This is the first movie Daldry has done that he has not been nominated for the Best Director Oscar , his only other movies of The Hours, Billy Elliot and the Reader being nominated but drawing a blank on the big night. For this particular movie, at the grand old age of 82, Swedish co-star Max von Sydow also became the second oldest man to be nominated for a male acting Oscar, beaten by just 50 days by Hal Holbrook in 2007 for Best Supporting in the atmospheric and somewhat bleak 'Into the Wild'. Rather unfortunately for von Sydow, he turned down the role of Hal in the film 'Beginners' to take this role, which was passed to fellow octogenarian Christopher Plummer, who was also nominated that year and went on to win the Oscar for Beginners and become the oldest ever male Oscar winner.
It's based on the book of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer and the star of the film if the rather precocious 13-year-old Thomas Horn, coming to the attention of director Stephen Daldry for the extremely complex role when, at the age of 11, won $31,800 on a "Kids Week" episode of the American TV series Jeopardy! , that aired in 2010. He also came third and then fourth in the National Spelling Bee and speaks fluent Croatian, Spanish and Mandarin.
* Tom Hanks as Thomas Schell
* Thomas Horn as Oskar Schell
* Sandra Bullock as Linda Schell
* Max von Sydow as The Renter
* Viola Davis as Abby Black
* John Goodman as Stan the Doorman
* Jeffrey Wright as William Black
* Zoe Caldwell as Oskar's grandmother
* Hazelle Goodman as Hazelle Black
=== The Plot ===
It's a year on from 911 in New York City and little autistic Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) is still unable to deal with the death of his father in the Twin Towers. Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks), like most who died that day, left no trace of his body and so buried in an empty coffin, too an autistic kid like Oskar, that an oxymoron that does not compute. He wants to know where dad has gone and whether he can get him back in some form and mum (Sandra Bullock) can't explain it either and also struggling with her grieving and the increasingly disruptive Oskar.
Oskar was very close to dad and to deal with Oskar's autism he would set him intellectual challenges to keep his mind alert and so less volatile, one such challenge the search for the imaginary sixth New York Borough, leaving clues across the city for his son to find on day trips, the last challenge they would ever do together. So when Oskar breaks a vase in dad's untouched bedroom shrine since that terrible day and it produces a hidden key and what looks like the first clue, that or a name on a piece of paper, young Oskar decides it's another of dads challenges and sets out to crack the mystery, hoping it will give him answers to why dad died and so some sort of piece of mind. The key must open a lock and Oskar is going to find it.
The name 'Black' is written on the paper and so Oskar, being the meticulous autistic he is, arms himself with his stress tambourine and rucksack and intends to visit all 472 of the 'Black's' in New York, lots of conversations to be had with strangers and lots of locks to try in the coming weeks, months, and even years if it's the last name on the list. He gets an unlikely helper in the form in his estranged mute grandfather (Max von Sydow), who keeps him going through curiosity for this strange man, another unexplainable for Oskar, someone also traumatized by his parent's cruel death when he was young.
During the film we repeatedly flashback to September 11 and what mum and son were doing on that day, Oskar allowed home from school because of the tragedy, mum seeing the plane hit outside of her office window and in phone contact with Thomas as it unfolded, both increasingly desperate. But what mom didn't know was dad was calling home and little Oskar was too scared to pick up the answer phone the six times it rang, a guilt he has carried for one whole year, the final call his fathers death as he watched the towers collapse on TV. And when you have to deal with emotions and you don't know what emotions are then how would you understand the finality of death and the guilt that follows?
=== Results ===
If ever the title of a movie gives away the problems of it then 'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close' is that movie. Sometimes books just don't translate to films and become hard work for the viewer. I haven't read the book but the ideas and narrative in the film suggest it was probably extremely intelligent and emotive and so, perhaps, clearly too tough to transfer to the big screen, literally being shouted at you here by young Thomas Horn in case you didn't pick up on them. This really is a film that split opinion with critics and audiences alike, Thomas Schell's lead and deliberately obnoxious turn that essentially is the film and the reason to watch it an acquired taste.
As with all movie autistics our Oskar appears to be extremely clever although it's never disclosed he actually has the condition in the film, which may have irritated the critics even more. The truth is that autistics are often of average intelligence and end up throwing the Rubik Cube at the wall after ten seconds, like the rest of us. I suppose it helps parents of these often troublesome children to believe that to make things better. I don't know what levels of research Thomas Horn did to play Oskar and it would not surprise me if part of his prep was to draw from that cliché movie autistic. Saying that his performance is very confident for a young actor and I suppose part of the role he plays is to annoy the audience because he is different, which he does very well. Only families with autistic kids can really judge his performance here.
For me the movie is about healing and coming to understand that some things in life can't be explained', like death, love and what a family is actually for. The kid knows dads is made up of tiny particles and returned to them when crushed in the tower and so wants to know if all those fairytales about heaven and the spirit are true. But the film missed its emotional trick when meeting all the people named Black in the city for me and how their stories relate to 911 wasn't exploited. The whole thing just races through the books message and the best stuff is lost in translation by the looks.
Its not a Tom Hanks or Sandra Bullock movie in any way are there just to get the film funded, and play two- dimensional characters throughout, keeping the camera on Oskar and big noisy New York that scares the hell out of him, which works to some extent and fair play to the kid for being so brave to carry the movie and the pressure that comes with his likewise performance. But once you start hating the kid for being so loud and autistic on screen you tend to lose your liking for the film. I stuck with it but many didn't. The Sixth Sense worked better, simply because the seemingly autistic kid was cute and not so threatening.
The general public clearly didn't find it that palatable and for its $40 million budget it did just $47 million back, killed by word - of - mouth and all but a loss on a Hollywood spreadsheet these days. But it looked good and the director enjoys the use of color and sound to a pleasing effect and draws the viewer into Oskar's world of phobias and uncertainties in a very different New York to Woody Allen's. The emotional ideas in the film on loss and separation are interesting and so perhaps reading the book the better option here to get the better punch. But at least it wasn't the usual bombastic trite and tribal affair 911 movies have been so far.
=== Ratings ===
Imdb.com - 6.8/10.0 (49,123 votes)
Metacritc.com - 46% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 47% critic's approval rating
Film4 -'A mixed bag of intelligent tragedy and poor choices, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has the ability to tug at the heart strings - it just gets them a bit tangled'.
Empire Magazine -'It's challenging, divisive and has moments of beauty but leaves you cold'.
The Guardian -'[An] intensely self-conscious movie that contrives to make the human cost and human meaning of 9/11 distant and faint'.
Msn -'As Oskar opines about his father's casket: "It's just an empty box". The same charge the film's guilty of'.
Spectrum Magazine -'It may try too hard, and it borders on the implausible early and often, but the performance of newcomer Thomas Horn is relentlessly earnest and believable'.
Ultra Culture -'Feels like a Very Special Episode of a hopelessly lightweight kids TV show, misguidedly attempting to have its say on an issue it can barely comprehend, let alone interpret'.
The Daily Telegraph -'You rather end up wishing Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close would just pipe down and back off'.
Summary: Not a film to book winner