Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ Review: Overly Obnoxious & Completely Confusing

Extremely Loud & Incredible Close might also be considered as “Overly Obnoxious and Completely Confusing.”

Based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer, it seems as if a 9-year-old boy who is struggling with his father’s death from 9/11 might make for a wonderful film adaption and it probably could have, if the story had a different director.

Stephen Daldry directed of Billy Elliot and The Reader, both are films which I enjoyed, so I know the man can direct! Extremely Loud was just all over the place and didn’t make sense half the time. I watched the film with a fellow critic and I leaned over and asked him, regarding a character on screen, “Where is he going?” and my critic friend said, “To a better movie.”

The film focuses on young Oskar (Thomas Horn) who is a socially awkward (and annoying) child whose father died in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11, while his mother (Sandra Bullock) is left grieving and hollow.

Oskar was clearly always closer to his father than his mother, so after his father’s unexpected death, his awkwardness increases and distance from his mother grows.

When Oskar rummages around in his father’s closet, he finds an envelope labeled “Black” with a key inside. He’s convinced this is another one of his father’s games and its up to him to find the lock where the keys fits. (Yes, the story slightly resembles the backwards version of ‘Hugo’, which I would have gladly seen again over this film). He considers it his destiny to visits all of the ‘Blacks’ in and around the city until he finds the one who holds the lock.

The highlight of the film is when Oskar meets the Renter (Max von Sydow), the person who is currently occupying a room in his grandmother’s apartment. The Renter, who does not speak, goes along with him, across the city and through the woods to find the right ‘Black’. Max von Sydow is without a doubt the best part of this film. His ability to completely capture the character’s mystery and sensitivity without speaking one word was wonderful to watch.

It was disappointing that both all-star actors, Hanks and Bullock were only in the movie for maybe a mere 30 minutes and all of their scenes were in the trailers and TV spots. I guess these two were cast as the parents to get people into the theatre.

The story of a young boy who flops around the city trying to find an answer, mixed with the tragic events of 9/11 just didn’t play over well and wasn’t the grand ‘9/11 film’ we were hoping for. To add Daldry’s ostentatious directing style to the formula made it even worse.

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