Director: Stephen Daltry
Starring: Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis
Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer of the same name, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close deals with the affects of September 11, 2001 on a ten-year old boy who lost his dad when the towers fell. Oskar Schell (Horn) in wildly imaginative curious young boy. He has an amazing relationship with his father, Thomas (Hanks), but he doesn't always see eye-to-eye with his mother, Linda (Bullock). Thomas and Oskar have little games they play including "Reconnaissance Expedition" where Thomas sets up the game/idea and Oskar must figure it out. Thomas informs Oskar that New York originally had a sixth borough, but no longer exists. It's Oskar's job to figure out where the borough was located. On September 11th, Oskar is released from school early due to the collapse of the World Trade Center. He comes home without a real sense of urgency and listens to the messages on the answering machine from his dad trying to reach his mom.
A year has passed since his dad's passing and Oskar decides to go into his closet for the first time. He finds an old box of film reels and a camera that his dad saved as a family heirloom. As he pulls the camera down, a vase comes crashing down and breaks. Inside the vase contained a small envelope with a key and the name "Black" on it. Oskar is determined that this is part of the Reconnaissance Expedition and must figure out what the key belongs to. He maps out addresses to where anyone with the last name Black may live in each of the boroughs. Along with his tambourine, back pack, Fig Newtons, and other supplies, Oskar sets out to discover the box the key opens desperately trying to hold onto the memories he has of his father.
One could watch this movie and call it hokey, contrived, emotional, and unrealistic. Many critics have had very negative reactions to it for these various reasons. I think they might be missing the point. The story is all in the eyes of a young boy who is far smarter than the average kid his age. He is going to have out of this world ideas. He is going to think outside the box. He is going to think his expedition makes sense or is realistic. Daltry does a fantastic job of making the audience see the world out of Oskar's eyes. There are specific camera shots of his viewpoint that create the isolated feeling he has after listening to the answering machine. Thomas Horn is pretty fantastic as Oskar. It is stunning to think that this is his first movie. He was discovered after appearing on the Kids Week episodes of Jeopardy. Legendary actor Max von Sydow is heartbreaking as The Renter. The Renter is an older man who lives with Oskar's grandma and goes on some of Oskar's missions all while living a silent life. He communicates with tattoos of the words "Yes" and "No" and through hand written notes. The film just received two Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Max von Sydow. Don't forget to bring your tissues, you may need it a couple of times.
RATING: **** 1/2 (4.5 out of 5 stars)