Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Starring Thomas Horn, Max von Sydow, Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks
Directed by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot)
Rated PG-13 for emotional thematic material, some disturbing images and language
There is a moment in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close where the young boy played by Thomas Horn covers his ears and yells at his father, played by Tom Hanks, begging him to not be disappointed in him. It is a startling and rather tender moment that shatters any misconception that the boy is cold and unfeeling or anything besides strong, resilient, and a little obnoxious. Taking place in New York City shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the boy is learning to live without his father who was killed while in the World Trade Center. He worshipped his father and wants nothing more in life than to make him proud. When he finds a key hidden in his father’s closet he goes on a desperate mission to discover what the key opens, even at the expense of missing school and practically abandoning his mother (Sandra Bullock). Soon after he begins his search, his adventure is shared with an older man carrying an important secret (Max von Sydow) who is eager to aid him on his quest.
I must warn you that this movie is a major tear jerker. Some might call it manipulative, but it’s not overly so. It’s just a subject matter that brings out a very strong emotional response. But don’t think that this is merely a sad film. It is about love and loss, but more importantly its about not giving up. Even when all seems lost, all might not be completely gone. It’s also very funny and incredibly moving.
Based on the best-selling novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, the movie is a compassionate yet challenging look at what we as a nation lost on that “worst day.” Through the boy’s eyes we see a world that can be cruel, but that can also be filled with love, laughter and adventure.
The acting here is absolutely top-notched. It helps to have accomplished actors such as Hanks, Bullock and von Sydow, but Horn appears to have been up to the challenge of working with such a talented cast. His character is that of a very different boy with possible high-functioning autism. It’s a tough part and he did a splendid job.
The story and the script here are what make the film so special. To come up with such an amazing idea for the novel and then to have it terrifically adapted by Academy Award winner Eric Roth (Forest Gump) is an amazing feat which seems so effortless here.
A lot of credit also goes to Stephen Daldry who has become quite a masterful story teller. He never shies away from tough material and seems to always churn out great movies.
Lastly, unlike the other two big 9/11 films, I think it’s a movie that audiences can get behind. It’s a very unique tale that many will find a deep connection with. A