Cert: 12A Runtime: 129 mins Director: Stephen Daldry Starring:Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Max Von Sydow
If things were easy to find, they wouldn’t be worth finding
I think I have watched all the films that are nominated for Best Film category for this years Oscars, except for Hugo (watch this space) and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. It has not had much luck in the critics circle but the Academy must like it. The film centers around the high functioning Oskar (Thomas Horn). He’s a brilliant child lacking in social graces. It is observed he may have Asperger’s syndrome which makes sense given his erratic behavior.Oskar’s father Tom (Tom Hanks) knew Oskar to be a very bright lad. He often engaged Oskar in activities that stirred his mind and kept him thinking. We learn that Tom Schell was one of the over 3,000 victims who perished at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Since his body was never recovered, an empty coffin was buried at his funeral which troubled his young son.Oskar has great difficulty coping with his father’s death. His mother Linda (Sandra Bullock) is beyond grief over losing her husband and worries over the self-imposed social isolation of Oskar. He engages in self injury, pinching himself all over his body, while dealing with his calamity.One year later Oskar finally visits his father’s bedroom again. While seeking a connection to his father, he discovers a mysterious key in an envelope labeled “Black.” What is this key? Why was it in his father’s possession? Convinced the key must have a significant meaning, and a possible message from his late father, Oskar is on a quest to discover what the key opens. He meets the “The Renter” (Max von Sydow). He’s an elderly gentleman who secretly lives with Oskar’s grandmother (Zoe Caldwell). He hasn’t spoken a word since experiencing the Holocaust firsthand. Here is a man who hasn’t been able to cope much with the world around him, similar to Oskar. He’s seen his fair share of unhappiness, though he does find compassion for Oskar and aids him to find out what the key is for.
Just because you’re making a movie about a tragedy does not mean that the audience will instantaneously commiserate with the characters involved. As I sit and watch this movie I feel that my emotions are somehow manipulated so as to force me to feel something I did not want to feel. Throughout the course of this film I sensed that perhaps the lead character, Oskar, was supposed to connect with us and even though he was granted pretty much the whole two hours of the movie’s screen time to do so, failed miserably. His acting was too exaggerated that it was almost unreal. The performance he gave was almost cartoonish, and the feelings he spoke of were not reciprocated in his actions. I am sure I am not alone when I say that I felt absolutely nothing for his character. Yes one or two scenes succeeded at unleashing a few bursts of grief within me, but they sunk back into my untouched heart just as quickly as they had appeared.There was one scene in particular that started to grab my attention, where Oskar managed to blurt out his quite disturbing desire for his mother’s death, in a rather malicious manner. So, instead of relating to the lead character, our hands are forced into resenting him during his entire performance. So, the only thing Oskar succeeded at was that he somehow managed to engrave an unforgettable impression in our minds…and not a good one at that. The word “obnoxious” popped up in my head over and over again every time Oskar popped on the screen, which was pretty much all the time, unfortunately. And dare I say that he was indeed incredibly loud…loud and unbearable.
Von Sydow was nice to watch and he gave us a tad bit of hope that the film might take a turn for the better, but not even his authentic performance could save this awkward flop of a movie. However, I have to admit that the last half hour of the movie eased my pain, and that each time Sandra Bullock came on screen I felt somehow safe. She managed to hold the movie together with her genuine portrayal of how far a mother’s affection can go. But, that sense of security soon vanished when Sandra was no longer on the screen. So, all in all, kudos Sandra, but this movie’s demise was just inevitable.I am deeply saddened by the fact that I had eagerly waited for the release of this motion picture, but what a waste that proved to be. Extremely loud & incredibly close takes you on a journey you are ever so reluctant to take, and gives you reasons supporting that reluctance that only grows stronger as the movie progresses. The movie was nothing more than a kid trying to find a lock that fits a key entrusted to him by his father, and never did it feel like anything other than just that. Although, I feel I should mention that it did succeed at leaving us feeling pity for the mother and contentment that we weren’t the ones having to deal with Oskar!Oh, I forgot to mention that Tom Hanks was featured in this film, and for those brief moments we watched him on the big screen, we waited for a breakthrough performance that never came through. We waited for so much throughout the course of the movie, but it turned out to be a sham, and we left the theater more annoyed and agitated than content and moved.4.5/10