A young boy (Thomas Horn), who has lost his father (Tom Hanks) in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, goes on an expedition across New York to find a lock that fits a key he found among his late father’s belongings. Does he find the lock and is he able to cope with his loss? Find some of the answers in the review of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
Business rating: 1/5 (One star)
Star cast: Tom Hanks, Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow.
What’s Good: Thomas Horn and Max von Sydow’s performances; a few emotional scenes where the audience feels for the boy.
What’s Bad: The slow pace of the drama in the latter half; the repetitiveness of the screenplay.
Verdict: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close will appeal only to a select few in the Indian cities. But that won’t be enough.
Loo break: Not really.
Watch or Not?: Watch it for the performances but be warned that it is a very different film from the usual Hollywood fare.
Paramount Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions and Warner Bros. Pictures’ Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close tells the story of a young boy’s journey, set against the backdrop of the tragic events of September 11 attacks in New York.
Eleven-year-old Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) is a very inquisitive and talented child with a lot of hobbies. He loves going on expeditions that his father (Tom Hanks) sends him on. Several of these require him to roam around New York, talk to strangers and discover hidden clues.
Oskar’s life is shattered when his father is killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks in New York. The young boy finds some solace in the company of his paternal grandmother (Zoe Caldwell).
As he and his mother (Sandra Bullock) are still coping with their loss a year after “the worst day”, Oskar finds a key among his late father’s possessions. The child thinks that his father must have wanted him to find the key and to discover where it would lead him, just like the expeditions he sent him on. As Oskar finds the key inside an envelope marked ‘Black’, he thinks, it must belong to a person with Black as his surname.
The boy plans out an elaborate scheme and starts visiting people with the surname ‘Black’ in the remotest corners of New York. An old and mute stranger (Max von Sydow), who lives as a renter across the street at his grandmother’s house, also joins Oskar on this expedition. The child develops a bond with the old man.
Is Oskar able to find the lock which the key opens? Who is the old stranger? What happens when Oskar’s mother finds out what he has been up to? Is he able to cope with his father’s death? What had happened on the fateful day of the 9/11 attacks? The rest of the drama answers these questions.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Review: Script Analysis
Eric Roth’s screenplay, based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel of the same name, has an interesting premise. As the narrative often switches between the past and the present, the story unfolds in bits and pieces and thus, it holds the viewer’s attention to an extent only. Sequences where Oskar is shown fighting with his mother, where he is shown overcoming his fears and phobias, where he is shown to be interacting with the old stranger, are engaging and impactful. A scene where the boy shares a secret he has kept since the attacks, with a stranger, brings tears to one’s eyes.
However, the drama takes too long to come to the point. Repeated scenes of Oskar visiting several people with the surname ‘Black’ seem rather forced, although they have been put together nicely. The latter half of the film, when Oskar teams up with the old man, is rather slow and even gets a little boring towards the end. The climax is stretched. Another thing that’ll make the drama less appealing for the Indian audience is the overall gloomy mood of the film.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Review: Star Performances
Thomas Horn’s performance as the young Oskar is excellent. He makes his character extremely believable. In spite of the very talkative nature of the character, he makes it endearing. Tom Hanks, in the short role of Oskar’s father, is good. Sandra Bullock does well as the mother. Max von Sydow (as the old stranger) does a commendable job even though he has no dialogues to mouth. Zoe Caldwell (Oskar’s grandmother), John Goodman (as the doorman), Viola Davis (as Abby Black) and Jeffrey Wright (as Mr. Black) support well.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Review: Direction & Cinematography
Stephen Daldry’s direction is suited to the script although his narrative style will appeal mainly to those who like different cinema. Alexander Desplat’s background score is very good. Chris Menges’ cinematography is eye-filling. Production design, by K.K. Barrett, is fine. Claire Simpson’s editing is sharp.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Review: The Last Word
On the whole, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is an average fare that’ll be liked by a thin minority in the Indian cities.
‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ releases in India on 2 March 2012.