23 feb. 2012

My Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (8/10)


¨If things were easy to find, they wouldn't be worth finding. ¨

This is Stephen Daldry`s fourth Oscar nominated film for Best Picture after his work in Billy Elliot, The Hours, and The Reader. Many critics seemed to have disliked this movie, and perhaps it may have to do with the fact that it didn’t measure up to some of his previous films. I however found Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close a very powerful and emotional film. It was hard not to get emotionally involved with this film that deals with the 9/11 attacks, although mainly targeted on how it affected one particular kid. Just like the kid in the movie, I found myself recalling these events of the past and trying to figure out what I was doing at the time of the attacks. I personally didn’t lose a loved one in the attacks so I don’t know how this movie could affect those who did, but I think Daldry has paid them a decent tribute. The screenplay was adapted by Eric Roth (who has a great trajectory in writing for films such as Forrest Gump, Munich, The Insider, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) from Jonathan Safran Foer`s novel of the same name. I don’t understand why so many critics hated this movie since it is much better than most films released in 2012, although I wouldn’t have nominated it for Best Picture either. Perhaps critics aren`t ready for a 9/11 film yet, or they thought it was too emotionally involving, but I don’t see how you can make one dealing with this subject that isn`t emotional. The other issue they might`ve had was that this film centers entirely on the performance of Thomas Horn, the Jeopardy winner during Kids Week who never starred in a film before this. I thought it was a good performance, although it did have its up and downs.

The main protagonist of the film is Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), who is not your ordinary kid. He is very smart, but not very social, and there is something about him that you know isn`t what we would consider normal behavior. He loves however playing expedition games with his father Thomas (Tom Hanks) who is always teaching him interesting facts and sending him on new quests. Thomas told Oskar that in New York there used to be a sixth burrow, but it has  disappeared although the clues of its whereabouts are hidden are around Central Park. All he has to do is continue searching. Thomas sends his son on all these expeditions because he wants him to interact with other people. Oskar`s mom is Linda (Sandra Bullock) who doesn’t seem to connect with him in the same way that his father does. She is however a loving and caring mother who has an excellent relationship with Thomas. On September 11th their lives will change forever when Thomas is killed in one of the World Trade Center towers. We know Thomas dies from the very beginning because the story is non-linear as most of the scenes between Oskar and his father come from the boy`s memory. It`s been a year since the ¨terrible day¨ and Oskar is afraid of losing his connection with his father. He`s in desperate need of a new expedition and he finds one when he discovers a mysterious key inside a blue vase with the name Black on the envelope and a newspaper cutting with the words ¨not stop looking.¨ Oskar believes this is another quest from his father and is set to find what the key unlocks with the help of a speechless renter (played by Max von Sydow) from his grandma`s home. They embark on the journey together and try to discover the impossible.

I think the main idea of the film revolves around the fact of trying to make sense of these terrible things that have happened and learning how to deal with them. During one point of the movie, Horn`s character tells us that if the Sun were to explode we`d still see it and feel its heat even eight hours after it exploded. In the same way he still feels the presence of his father in his life even if it has been a year since his tragic death. He fears however that those eight hours are running out and wants to do something about it before it`s too late. How can he continue to feel the presence of his father in his life? He believes that with this new expedition he will continue to keep his memory, but what he doesn’t realize is that by embarking on this journey he will encounter many other people and hear their stories. The movie is very emotional and had me holding back my tears. I really found it powerful and enjoyed Horn`s performance, although I really got more involved with the movie when Max von Sydow`s character showed up. He deserved the nomination for best supporting actor because he really lifted this movie. The scene where Oskar shares his story to this stranger is just so powerful, I really enjoyed this film. I wouldn’t have nominated it for Best Picture, but I still enjoyed it even more than I did War Horse, The Descendants, and The Help so my major complain won`t be why this got nominated, but how Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Drive, Harry Potter, and Warrior didn’t.

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