Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close


Reviewed by: Donald Munro

Somewhere inside Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a good film wanting to get out. The problem is that it is buried under sentiment, self indulgence and about half an hour too much footage.

A young boy, Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) starts to come to terms with the death of his father Thomas (Tom Hanks) in the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers. A year after the attacks Oskar looks into his father's closet for the first time. Inside the closet he spots his dad's old camera on a high shelf. Whilst reaching for it he knocks a small blue vase from the shelf which smashes to reveal a key. Convinced that the key is important, Oskar sets about finding its purpose and in doing so finds some degree of self confidence and closure. He also finds a companion in his absent mute grandfather (Max von Sydow). The grandfather's loss of his parents during World War 2 and his response to trauma both parallel and contrast with Oskar's experiences.

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The strongest features of the of the film are the performances by Max von Sydow and by Sandra Bullock as Linda, Oskar's mother. Max von Sydow is warm, quirky and charismatic. Bullock's portrayal of grief and concern for Oskar is sometimes quite moving, without descending into histrionics. Thomas Horn brings some deadpan humour to the character of Oskar. That part is unfortunately the winner of stereotypical autistic spectrum disorder kid of the month award. He goes around clutching a safety tambourine like some creepy kid from a horror movie that you can't quite place.

On his quest to find the key's lock, Oskar is panicked by the sounds of the city and the closeness of the environment. Visually this is well conveyed but like so much else in this film it happens too often, it becomes boring. The film treads the same paths again and again just in case you didn't get the point the third time. It also has a tendency to over-explain the plot and to tidy up irrelevant lose ends. This highlights the contrived nature of the story. From one end to the other it is a string of improbable coincidences. If it were stripped back it would be a lot more believable. If the film were stripped back and made simpler it would be more enjoyable and it would get its central message across in a more forceful manner. It is also laden with sentimentality which gums up the film, bloating it between its poignant moments.

Reviewed on: 17 Feb 2012
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A boy trying to come to terms with the death of his father on 9/11 finds a mysterious key.
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Director: Stephen Daldry

Writer: Eric Roth, Jonathan Safran Foer

Starring: Tom Hanks, Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock, Zoe Caldwell, Dennis Hearn, Paul Klementowicz, Julian Tepper, Caleb Reynolds, John Goodman, Max von Sydow, Stephen Henderson, Lorna Pruce, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright, Hazelle Goodman

Year: 2011

Runtime: 129 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


BIFF 2012

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