Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE is a depressing film about a boy that loses his father during the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 and his efforts to hold onto his memory. When it comes to emotional drainers, we haven’t seen a movie as relentless as ELAIC in a long time. But the film is done so well and handled so delicately that the audience never wants to look away, even though their eyes may be blurry from tearing up every so often.
One of the many reasons the film works so well is because of its leading man/boy Thomas Horn. Horn plays Oskar Schell to perfection, giving him just enough quirkiness and eccentricity that we like him, but not so much that we find him annoying. After his father’s (Tom Hanks) death, Oskar takes it upon himself to track down the lock that can be opened by a key he found in his father’s closet. This leads him to a number of different people, all who touch his life in some way and who in turn, have their lives touched by Oskar. Throughout his journey, we learn more about what Oskar is going through and we get the joy of watching him overcome his fears and the pain of watching him struggle with his father’s death.
Young Thomas Horn is aided in his efforts by a wonderful supporting cast. Tom Hanks is seen in flashbacks, as Oskar tries to remember things his father taught him. Hanks is the perfect dad in these flashbacks and the scenes are used well to heighten the emotions the audience is feeling for Oskar’s loss. Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright also do well as people Oskar meets on his journey, but the real highlight is from Sandra Bullock. She and Horn have a scene where they finally let their emotions towards the other come out and it’s both powerful and gut wrenching at the same time. There’s really no right or wrong in their exchange, but when Oskar tells his mother he wished it were her in the building, it’s nearly impossible not to break down in tears.
To date, 9/11 hasn’t been told well on film. Oliver Stone rushed things with WORLD TRADE CENTER, there was the overly sappy Robert Pattinson film REMEMBER ME and a slew of others touched on it, to varying degrees of success. ELAIC tackles the tough subject matter head on and lets you know early in the film that it’s going to deal with it. But this isn’t a preachy, melodramatic, political film that will hit you over the head with the tragedy. Instead, the attacks serve the purpose as the cause of death of Oskar’s father. And Oskar doesn’t run through the film complaining about increased security at airports, he runs through the film trying to hold on to his father’s memory. Anyone that has ever lost someone knows what Oskar is feeling, whether they were lost on 9/11 or not.