Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Movie with Abe: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Directed by Stephen Daldry
Released December 25, 2011

There are many, especially those living in New York City, who will never feel that enough time has passed to make a film about the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2011. Two 2006 films, “United 93” and “World Trade Center,” dealt with the events on that particular day, while the adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s 2005 novel follows a child whose father was killed in the World Trade Center throughout the year after his loss. For those willing to endure tears, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is an immensely engaging and profoundly meaningful experience about a search for closure by one particularly precocious child.

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is anchored entirely by the relationship between nine-year-old Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) and his father Thomas (Tom Hanks). During Thomas’ life, he energizes his socially awkward, marvelously adult-like son with lavish scavenger hunts and other projects utilizing New York City. After his death, Oskar finds what he is sure is his father’s final challenge for him, prompting a lengthy inter-borough adventure full of both dramatic and comic moments. The specific details of Oskar’s realization of his father’s fate are scattered throughout the film, brought to light only when Oskar begins thinking of them.

Thomas Horn delivers an astonishing debut performance, chosen for the role after winning over $30,000 on Teen Jeopardy in 2010. Horn has unbounded energy and an impossibly mature attitude, making Oskar a believable child and a fantastic protagonist for this story. Alexandre Desplat’s beautiful score is magnificent because it alters its tone and beat to match Oskar’s emotions, ebbing and flowing as he encounters obstacles and success along his journey. He is guided at times by the film’s other standout performer, Max Von Sydow, who plays the mysterious man renting a room from Oskar’s grandmother, who does not speak and communicates via written notes.

Stephen Daldry has made only four feature films, and his first three earned him well-deserved Oscar nominations for Best Director. His follow-up to “Billy Elliot,” “The Hours,” and “The Reader” is fully worthy of classification with its predecessors, demonstrating strong cinematic techniques in bringing the excellent script by Eric Roth to the screen. “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” succeeds mainly because it presents a story from a child’s point of view without seeming either too young or old. The approach to the delicate material is sensitive and respectful, and the film is inspirational, powerful, and entertaining with few lulls along the way.


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