REVIEW: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
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'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' is the film based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer. It seemed to be quite highly-anticipated until the first trailer was released and everyone who had read the book, let out a communal groan- the uber-wholesome casting choice of Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, U2's 'Where The Streets Have No Name' in the background, it was all, a bit... much.
The story follows a young boy (Oskar played by Thomas Horn) struggling to come to terms with his father (Tom Hanks)'s death in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 which he calls 'the worst day'. Soon after, he finds a key in his father's closet in an envelope simply marked 'Black'. An elaborate quest to find the matching lock follows. Horn is a great young actor but I found this character quite unlikeable, he's a jerk to his grieving mother and an impatient bully to the old man, known simply as 'The Renter' (Max von Sydow). The character of The Renter (who is also presumably, his grandfather) makes very little sense in the movie (as opposed to the book), and the circumstances around this old man's appearance in their lives is lazily sketched out.
There are some beautiful shots of New York in the film, and some endearing moments, but the problem is that it's so wholly focussed on making the viewer emotional that you can't help but feel manipulated and uninvolved. Images of bodies falling from the towers, repeated plays of the fathers final voicemail messages, the portrayal of his parents as nurturing his every little quirk- they want you to cry, rather than be moved.
So, after assuming the key is the first clue in a treasure hunt, Oskar makes a list of all the New York residents with the surname 'Black' and visits them in the hope that this will lead him to the lock he is searching for. Pretty much everyone is delighted to see him and welcomes him into their homes- but of course! I was distracted by the dangerousness of a small boy wondering across New York's five boroughs alone for a large portion of this movie (some of the rest of it, I spent wondering how tired 'The Renter' must be feeling as he follows Oskar around and also "What if 'Black' meant the colour or a street or was code and NOT someone's last name?"). The expedition does end up leading him to the lock, but the whole exercise seems largely pointless. It does have heart to it, but this should have felt more authentic and involving than it did.
'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' is in cinemas now.