Cinema Review – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
With the Oscar Nominated Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close hitting cinemas this weekend, Tom takes a look to see if it is deserving of one of the highest accolades a film can receive, the much coveted Best Picture award…
Jonathan Safran Foer’s debut novel Everything Is Illuminated was an outstanding story about a young Jewish American who travels to Ukraine to uncover secrets about his past, and it was successfully translated to the screen by Liev Schreiber, who took the project on board for his first and only foray behind the camera. It is an exceptionally moving and entertaining adaptation, and proved that Foer’s intriguing style of writing could be converted into an enrapturing viewing experience.
Following the huge success of his first novel, Foer looked to post 9/11 New York for the setting of his second book and created another equally popular story that was destined to reach the big screen. The intriguingly titled ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ follows a nine year old who undertakes a journey to discover the lock which matches the key left behind by his father after his untimely death in the World Trade Centre during September 11th.
This time Stephen Daldry takes the helm to direct Foer’s latest novel and with films such as Billy Elliot, The Hours and The Reader under his belt, I hoped his adaptation would live up to Schreiber’s excellent debut film. Casting prominent actors such as Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and the veteran Max Von Sydow in some of the main roles was also a surefire way to peak my interest and having not read the book I decided to approach the film knowing as little as possible so that my views wouldn’t be affected by the recent Oscar backlash that has dominated certain film forums.
It is incredible to think that Thomas Horn, who portrays our nine year old protagonist, is making his feature film debut, especially with such a difficult role to play. Suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, his character Oskar has difficulty communicating with people and this is the catalyst for his dad to create a series of games and tests to assist with his development and prepare him for the real world. This father and son bond that is visited via flashbacks throughout the story is clearly a strong one, and through these scenes we see how Oskar’s curiosity is peaked by objects that would usually pass us by, much akin to Elijah Wood’s habit of collecting trinkets in Everything is Illuminated. There are occasional moments where Horn’s character grates but for the most part I was swept along with his enthusiasm and couldn’t help but root for Oskar and his seemingly never ending search for the matching lock.
All of the actors involved put in credible performances, with Von Sydow rightfully receiving an Oscar nomination for his role as the replacement father figure in Oskar’s life, and the dozens of colourful characters that they meet on his search for the lock all serve to enhance the story as he gets closer to reaching his goal. An understated performance from John Goodman as Stan the doorman provides some light comic relief, and Viola Davis’ turn as one of the strangers Oskar encounters is wonderful considering her small time on screen.
Few directors are brave enough to take a look at the aftermath of 9/11 and whilst United 93 is undoubtedly the most powerful film to tackle the subject so far, Extremely Loud has its fair share of upsetting moments that are likely to resonate with those in the audience who become more involved in the story. A powerful scene involving a recorded message may well bring some viewers to tears although it is likely that the more cynical audience members will probably not be reaching for the tissues but imagining how it could be turned into an online meme, much like the infamous scene from Downfall. Tell me you wouldn’t be tempted to replace the recorded messages with alternative dialogue, or is that just me being heartless?
At times Extremely Loud does feel overly sentimental, almost as if Daldry is purposely aiming for that coveted gold statue, with numerous scenes that seem to have been included solely in an attempt to induce tears. When I read up on others thoughts after viewing the film it is clear that I am not alone in sharing these views, however, Extremely loud remains a compelling watch and is definitely worth taking a look at despite its minor flaws. Best picture? Not by a long shot, but don’t let the backlash put you off.
EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE IS RELEASED NATIONALLY IN UK ON 17TH FEBRUARY 2012
About The Author – Tom Bielby
Long time film fan and aspiring film writer, Tom is a horror fanatic who wasted far too much time at University sitting through every film in the IMDB Top 250. He is partial to foreign films and cult cinema and would love to rid the world of people who rustle their popcorn during important scenes. He can be found on Twitter under the alias @filmbantha
Do you think Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is deserving of its Oscar nomination or (really obvious pun warning) did you find it Extremely Long and Incredibly Boring? Let us know your thoughts below…