"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"
Release Date: Jan. 20, 2013
Running Time: 129 minutes
I can’t remember the last time a Best Picture nominee was greeted with such loud derision as Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. The poisonous reviews have all but stopped short of demanding the U.S. government round up those responsible for this post-9/11 drama and ship them off to Guantanamo Bay. Most accuse director Stephen Daltry of emotional manipulation and slam newcomer Thomas Horn for delivering a weak performance as the preteen coping with the loss of his father in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. When I watched Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close in December for the first time, I found it be a cathartic experience that addressed our national outrage and grief in a very captivating and intimate manner. I re-watched Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close recently in the wake of its severe criticism, and while its flaws were greatly magnified upon second viewing, I still found it be a life-affirming portrait of a young boy struggling to come to terms with his father’s death. Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close details the literal and figurative journey undertaken by Horn weeks after 9/11. He embarks on a scavenger hunt similar to the ones he enjoyed with father (Tom Hanks). Horn finds a key in his father’s coat pocket and spends many weekends searching for the box that the key fits into. The scavenger serves as a way for Horn to remain as close to his father in death as he was in life, and Daltry handles the boy’s door-to-door pursuit of his quarry in a profound and moving way. The hunt also allows Horn to strike up a friendship with Max von Sydow’s mysterious old man. Von Sydow never says a word, and there’s tremendous sadness and regret to be found in his silence that’s somewhat erased by his newfound relationship with Horn. Oskar’s not only grieving for his father but is hiding a dark secret from his mother (Sandra Bullock). If Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a near-fatal flaw, it is in its depiction of the increasingly estranged relationship between mother and son. Not only does the ineffective Bullock disappear for long stretches at a time,Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close all but paints her as a neglectful mother. A closer examination of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close indicates that little effort is made to examine the tension between Bullock and Horn, so the last-minute attempt to bring them closer feels forced and too convenient. Otherwise, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close rings true in its bid to personalize the suffering felt by those who loss loved ones in 9/11.
Aired: Jan. 19, 2012
Web site: http://extremelyloudandincrediblyclose.warnerbros.com/dvd/