Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a life changing film… I’ll just go ahead and make that clear right now. This is one of those movies that, after watching it, you’ll leave the viewing with your perspective on things first painfully challenged and then altered for the good. If those were the only two sentences I had to offer regarding this heartbreaking, beautiful, and inspiring motion picture, they would suffice just fine—because this one truly speaks for itself.
As the promotional trailers and posters have been expounding for months now, this really isn’t a story about the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center… instead it’s a story about just a small handful of the countless souls whose very existences were forever altered on that ‘worst day.’ It would be a mistake to call this film, or the book it is based upon, an attempt to explain and resolve the infinite terror of 9/11—indeed, quite the contrary. Extremely Loud explains little and resolves even less, and the picture and its message are the better for it. The people that are at the center of it all, like in the very real life we all wake up to each day, are varied in their states of composure—happy and sad; gracious and flawed; alive and dead.
In lieu of making our young hero Oskar (played incredibly by newcomer Thomas Horn)—whose attentive and loving father Thomas (Tom Hanks) was in the towers when they fell—out to be either a victim or a saint, this parable of hope beyond hope instead presents the boy as at first simply existing. Oskar and his mother Linda (Sandra Bullock) are doing the best they can a year after the destruction, and when Oskar finds a mysterious key while reminiscing in his father’s closet, the youngster is sure beyond all certainty that said key is part of the many great ‘expeditions’ he and dad used to plan. Using simple clues that perhaps only a child would pay attention to, Oskar sets out on a well-planned journey through New York City—he scours phone books and makes grids and schedules, for heaven’s sake!—to find the key’s lock. An excellent and varied cast—a group indeed befitting the enormous variety of culture and ideas that make up the Big Apple— help push Oskar’s quest steadily onward.
That very basic synopsis betrays little purposely, for this rare silver screen gem needs to be experienced without much prerequisite expectation. Perfectly shot, scored, and paced, director Stephen Daldry’s epic—and yet somehow so every day and simple—plot progression lacks nothing in flowing seamlessly from being at times comedic to at other times overwhelmingly dramatic… all while still always remaining heartfelt. If there is anything negative to say about this one, I can’t think of it here. See this film and be blessed, faithful readers.
KFP Rating: 5 out of 5 stars