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January 6, 2012
Review - " Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close "   
(in theaters) By
Roland Hansen
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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Starring: ames Gandolfini, Jeffrey Wright, John Goodman,
Julian Tepper, Max von Sydow, Sandra Bullock, Thomas
Horn, Tom Hanks, Viola Davis

“Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close”, a film from Stephen
Dauldrey (“Billy Elliott”, “The Hours”, “The Reader”) and
from the acclaimed book of the same name by Jonathan
Safran Foer, tells the tale of a bright young boy named
Oskar Schell, a young boy who experiences first-hand the
horrific events of 9/11 when his father, played by Tom
Hanks, is killed in the collapsing buildings.

When his father was still alive, they’d play a game called
the Renaissance Expeditions – scavenger hunts that led
Oskar all around New York. His father had designed it so
that his son was put into situations to talk to people, and he
left clues everywhere. Still struggling with his grief a year
after his father’s death, Oskar finds an unusual key in an
envelope with the name “Black” written on it. As he tries to
make sense of the events, he searches the city for the
meaning behind the key in his father’s possession

He is determined to complete the last Renaissance
Expedition to stretch his final moments with his dad. He
visits every single person with the last name “Black”, and
the journey takes him all around Manhattan. Meeting
various strangers that help show him humanity, Oskar
makes a journey that hopefully will find the answers that he
needs to keep his father alive inside. Every door that opens
has a heartbreaking story to tell, and Oskar realizes that
the key may open the unlikeliest box ever, which may lead
him back to the unlikeliest source ever – home.
Let me start by saying that this is a child that conveys all the sides of childhood. Played by Thomas Horn, a wonderful
newcomer, Oskar is very much front and centre in this story. He can be precious and annoying in his knowledge or lack of it
and this very much adds to the nature of this child’s journey. We sympathize with the child’s quest for meaning, but
sometimes we get annoyed with him because of his failure to understand that sometimes things can’t be understood. We
absorb his strive and determination, but we also find him challenging because of his lack of emotions that seem sensible. He
is a child and he offers such a rounded view that he could be any child.

The difference is that he is a child who is trying to make sense of this event that he refers to as the Worst Day. As he travels
the city in search of the meaning of this key and ultimately what his father was asking of him, we meet a variety of people who
offer glimpses into the human soul, spanning angry, distraught, happy, spiritual, and it is through these people that Oskar
begins to truly glimpse life. These people are woman and men in bad relationships like Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright or
drifters like the renter played by Oscar nominee Max Von Sydow, all beautiful in helping this story come to life.
We see Oskar trying to mend himself, trying to
hold on to his dad, trying to stretch the time
he had left with him. He feels far away from his
mom, and carries a very heavy burden on his
shoulders. As one might expect, this movie
calls for and demands a strong performance
on the child actor’s part. The talented first-
timer Thomas Horn delivered beyond what
was anticipated.

Even so, it was actually Tom Hanks (who
played the father) and Sandra Bullock (in the
role of the mother) and the supporting cast
who drove the movie right to my heart. Oh,
and don’t forget the mysterious inconsolable
mute Renter (Max von Sydow), with the words
“Yes” and “No” tattooed on his left and right
hands respectively, who develops a unique
friendship with our young protagonist.
Sadly, life at home is not something he sees as encompassing in this journey and its from home that he has disconnected,
his father being his greatest influence. Sandra Bullock as his mother is phenomenal. Proving in very short scenes why she is
a much better actor than she gets credit, this is a mother trying to make sense of her child who has little connection to her,
something she knows and has accepted. She is just as transformed by this event and tries to reach across the chasm that
exists even more between her son and herself. She is trying to make as much sense out of this event, but as an adult,
understands that sometimes things can’t be understood and this is something that can’t easily be expressed. This creates a
powerful dynamic between Horn and Bullock and even in scenes where they do not speak or are screaming hurtful things, we
never for a second lose the love they share for each other.

Sometimes in this story, the switches in time can be confusing as we switch between The Worst Day and the present journey,
but it all comes together as we see the characters truly start to understand what keeps people together during these hard
times. Every character that comes across the screen is a distant person to each other, even when they live in the same
home, but its when we truly take the moment to listen to each other that we realize that we are not that different at all.
“Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close” is
rated PG-13 for “emotional thematic material,
some disturbing images, and strong
language.” Oskar does use a variety of
profanity. He deliberately bruises and
pinches himself as a response to his
overwhelming emotional pain. Some scenes
are intense, and only because the characters
are well rounded and tangible. Yet the movie
did not let me leave the theater feeling
depressed – rather, the intertwined storylines
were all about a journey of healing. The
score was beautiful – it added such depth
and brought out the poignancy in every
single scene.

Extremely Loud was incredibly moving.
Putting the acting and filming aside, the very
storyline about people coping with grief is
heartbreaking, especially in the attack of
9/11.Through this movie I could feel the pain
and anguish the families went through from
Oskar’s perspective.