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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon January 21, 2012
Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) shares an incredibly close relationship with his father, Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks). Oskar is an extraordinary child who has some very particular social quirks. His list is rather extensive and it's revealed that he was once tested for Asperger's Syndrome. However, Thomas Schell spends a great amount of time with his son and does everything he can to help him overcome his fears. However, on September 11, 2001 as the world changes forever, tragically so does the life of Oskar and his mother, Linda (Sandra Bullock), as Thomas was in the second tower of the World Trade Center when it fell. Linda attempts to move on with life, but Oskar refuses to move forward. A year later, he accidently destroys a blue vase while rummaging through his father's closet and discovers a key in an envelope simply marked "Black". Thomas constantly played games with Oskar and led him on journeys around the city, hiding clues and prizes in the most unexpected places. Oskar is convinced the key is a gift left behind by his father to send him on one last adventure. Determined to find the door the key unlocks, Oskar begins a systematic search of the city, trying to locate the person with the last name "Black" who will be able to help him solve the mystery. Along the way, Oskar becomes acquainted with a man his grandmother has been renting a room to. The man seems to have no name and is simply known as "The Renter" (Max Von Sydow). The Renter is a survivor of WWII and reminds Oskar of his father. The two become unlikely companions and friends as they search the city to unravel the mystery of the key.

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE is based upon a 2005 novel by Jonathan Foer. I've not read the novel, so I can't compare the movie to the book.

The movie is an extremely moving piece of cinema. It goes to places that the audience might not suspect. The movie has a satisfying ending, but it's not necessarily a happy one. Like life, Oskar's journey doesn't turn out exactly as he had hoped. However, like all journeys, it changes his life forever.

The acting in EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE is amazing. Tom Hanks plays a small, but important role. Newcomer Thomas Horn is so powerful that it's difficult to believe this is the first time he's ever acted on film before. Sandra Bullock has a strong supporting role that is worthy of a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Max Von Sydow speaks no lines, but his eyes speak more and convey more emotion than the most well trained politician. John Goodman has what is basically a cameo as Stan the Doorman, but it's always a joy to watch Goodman perform, even in a role such as this. There are numerous smaller roles in the various Blacks that Oskar meets. Most of these characters are only on screen for a few brief moments but each of them ground their scenes in realism. EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE is a good movie that is made great by the acting performances. If for no other reason, it's worth watching for the acting alone.

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE is a very emotional movie. For Americans, particularly those who lived and worked in New York on September 11, 2001, it will probably have a different kind of reaction. However, though the story is told through the lens of September 11th, the film is really a story about a young man coming to grips with the unexpected death of his father. It's a film that will probably resonate with anyone who has lost a parent they were close to. I cried several times and the film really made me think about my own Dad and his untimely death. I left the theatre thinking about many of the memories I have of my Dad. It made me a little sad, but very grateful. In the future, I'm sure that EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE is a movie I'll watch whenever I'm sad and thinking about my Dad because I know that though it might cause a few tears, it'll cheer me up in the end and, like Thomas Schell and my own father, encourage me to not stop looking for whatever adventure life holds.
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on February 3, 2012
Most of us in this country, indeed most of those in the civilized world, has a memory of where they were and how they felt on September 11, 2001. Many, of course, have painful and permanent losses to deal with. For myself, we were far from home on that day, and I truly felt that something of our world had ended. Which, in fact it had. So when it was announced that there would be a movie, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which would touch on those tragic events, our first response was, "No, we don't think so." Then we learned who was to be in this movie, and the cast included so many of our favorite actors: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright, Max von Sydow, John Goodman, people we felt we could trust to do such a subject justice, and we said, "Well...." Then we learned more about the story of the film (and story is everything, to us) and we asked ourselves, "How could we not see it?"

And I'm so very glad we did. Everyone is predictably excellent. The story is beautifully done, and at the same time simple and deeply layered. The child actor makes you believe he is dealing with the personal problems of the child character. These problems would be unique and difficult enough, if they did not also include the loss of an incredible father under horrific circumstances, and you share the pain of this family of grandmother, mother and son, while the story is told from so many different directions. Being one of those who cry at Hallmark commercials, I am always loathe to see any movie or play or read any book that wants to make me cry. But this movie is not like that. I did just fine throughout the entire story, experiencing it intensely but dry-eyed. Until the end. Until I got to the point where I could fully appreciate the efforts this family made to move forward, the grace with which they and the families they represented dealt with what they were given. Until I could see the wonder of the story.

It was terrible in the parts that invoked the events that we already knew had happened; it became wonderful beyond my power of description because of a boy on a swing. And then I wept.
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on February 24, 2012
A Boy's Quest in EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE
Ambitious in concept, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is the love story of a troubled boy whose bond with his father transcends death and events beyond his understanding. Director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliott, The Hours) has put together an interesting study in post trauma and rediscovery. It doesn't always work, but it still registers on an emotional level.

A funeral signals the death of a family member and a boy's alienation to the world. In flashbacks, Oskar (Thomas Horn), who has trouble communicating and may have Asperger Syndrome, adores his father (Tom Hanks) who challenges him with riddles and treasure hunts to meet people outside his apartment. Both father and mother (Sandra Bullock) are loving parents, and the world becomes an interesting laboratory for exploration and discovery. Life is idyllic until 9/11 when everything changes and Oskar is witness to his father's last moments trapped in one of the Twin Towers. A year later, looking in his father's closet, he discovers a key in an envelope with the letters `black'. Who or what does the key belong to? Oskar sets out to find out by systematically tracking down every `Black' in the phone book and visiting each person for a clue. This big scavenger hunt is at best a daunting task.

His grandmother who lives across the street has a mysterious renter (Max Von Sydow) who does not speak and can only communicate by jotting on a note pad or displaying `yes' and `no' written on each hand. The renter takes a liking to Oskar and accompanies him on his quest. This is a search that proves overwhelming as each person they find has a story too. When all hope seems lost, the road leads back to that fateful September morning and opens Oskar to the truth about his parents and himself.

At first you wonder if this hunt will be meaningful and be rewarded or if it is a waste of time. Oskar's obsession keeps him connected to his father; to fail is to lose whatever he has left of that relationship. In a way, it is about trying to make sense of his father's death and coming to terms with it. It is also about the forgiveness of guilt that nearly consumes Oskar.

You kind of think that at some point a miracle may occur or that something profound may happen, but what does reveal itself does not quite answer all the questions, and maybe that's just the point to the film, that life is part mystery and we never truly understand its riddle.

When you take stock of all the people that Oskar encounters, you realize that every one of them can sympathize or has suffered some kind of loss, and how they react to that in relation to Oskar shows how the trauma of loss can be a common bond. You wish you could learn more about some of these people.

Von Sydow gives a memorable performance without uttering a word as the renter who has a personal, family secret. Why does he remain mute? Was he a survivor of something so traumatic like the concentration camps of Europe that he does not speak? In a supporting role, Viola Davis is effective playing a character who figures prominently at the beginning and the end.

In the end, Oskar has learned something about himself and his family, and through his journeys, he has matured in a new post-9/11 world. Ultimately, the revelation at the end is bittersweet and that without the power of forgiveness, closure is incomplete. It also speaks to a part of humanity that we all share.
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on March 31, 2012
I rented this movie with some trepidation. I read the book several years ago and it was one of my all-time favorites. I was afraid (especially with the negative reviews here on Amazon) that it would not only fall below my expectations but it would ruin the beautiful story I remember from the book. I was so wrong. This was a great movie!
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on April 1, 2012
This movie got to me immediately and I was an emotional wreck by the end. The young man who played Oskar should have GOTTEN an Oscar. He was appropriately named. I have a nephew with Asperger's so I know that this young man played this part to perfection. At the core, it's the beautiful story of a damn good father who loved his wife and son and left this world too early, and how his family deals with that. It's flipping beautiful. I don't understand the low reviews from some.
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on March 28, 2012
I work with kids with Asperger's and this kid did a perfect job. One reviewer thought he wasn't enough like a real kid. Well, Asperger's kids are different. They're often exactly like this kid.
A perfect movie. I can't imagine a better one being made about 911. Incredibly moving and extremely sad. Very, very well-written. Amazing....
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on March 27, 2012
"My father died at 9-11. After he died I wouldn't go into his room for a year because it was too hard and it made me want to cry." Oskar (Horn) is having a hard time dealing with the loss of his father (Hanks). On the morning of September 11th he is sent home early from school and is the first one home. He listens to the answering machine messages that he hides from his mother (Bullock). One year later he finds a key in his father's closer and finds one more way to be close to his dad. Going in I was looking forward to this one. Tom Hanks usually doesn't make a bad movie. While this is in no way a bad movie it was much slower then I expected. This was as depressing as I thought but there was something missing to really drive it home. Much like "In The Land Of Blood & Honey" it seemed to try to hard to make you feel bad when just the story alone has the power to do that. The one huge bright spot is the acting by the kid playing Oskar, he is in about 95% of the scenes and carries the movie extremely well. For a kid that young to steal a movie from Hanks is very impressive. Overall, a very good movie but I was expecting it to be better. I give it a B.
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on November 17, 2015
The performances are, at times, excellent... but not knitted together as well as I'd wish. I'm sorry, but I just don't buy that the little boy is autistic (tet results were inconclusive). I am dearly acquainted with several people on the autism spectrum...and they just don't turn it on and off like this character does. When he's exhibiting symptoms he's very convincing...but sometimes he's not at all, maybe because it was getting in the way of the pacing. Bonus: Sandra Bullock's character has more depth than it appears at first, and she becomes a pleasure to watch by the end.
Warning: a LOT of time is devoted to 9/11 reenactments, some of which were way more graphic than I was expecting.
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on January 6, 2013
Without a doubt, this is one of the most amazing films I've seen this decade, if not ever! In all my years, I don't think I've ever seen something that deals with the loss of a parent in such an honest way. Yes, even though the bulk of the story kind of comes across like a fairy tale, the themes it deals with and how they are handled are some of the most realistic I've ever seen committed to film.

I remember being excited to see this when it came out, and the wait was well worthwhile. Unlike another kind of similar tale about a youth's search for meaning in the midst of life's turmoils that I was excited to see when it came out, but ended up being disappointed with, "Where The Wild Things Are", I felt there was never a moment in this that wasn't just extremely brilliant and beautiful and moving.

Being someone who lost my father a few years ago (he died unexpectedly of a heart attack), I relate to everything Oskar went through emotionally in this film, as I'm sure anyone else who's lost a parent will do. I felt this movie captured all the raw emotions and feelings that a person experiences after such a great loss, ranging from grief, anger, confusion, anger, feelings of euphoria from lack of sleep, anger, to even assessing blame on the surving parent.

I was also very moved by the way the film dealt with generational themes, depicted beautifully between Oskar and the tenant in his grandmother's house (Max Von Sydow). The endurance of learning self respect and love and respect for others passed on from one generation to the next was so wonderfully depicted.

Sorry, but I'm not going to go into plot scenarios here. If you want that, read someone else's review. I feel the plot has been disussed enough in so many other well written reviews. What I'm trying to share here is my experience and emotions while wathing the film. This is something that made me weep unabashedly, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. Yes, this is a deeply moving film, and even has some very depressing moments, but it is not an overall depressing film; and it also has some very magnificent enlightening moments, capturing the beautiful bonds of family relationships that will just take your breath away.

And let me just say that the acting from the cast in this is some of the best I've ever seen from any of them. I honestly don't think I've ever seen better work from any of them before. Why the Academy didn't recognize their work in this is beyond me.

As you can already probably guess, I HIGHLY recommend this movie! Thank you. :>)

Randall Brooks
(author, "The Two Worlds of the Mind")
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on May 27, 2014
This movie is so good. Its about this boy that is real close to his dad (Tom Hanks). On 9/11 his dad dies in the World Trade Centers. The son comes home just in time to hear his dad, calling on the phone and sounding frantic. Then when the phone goes dead. The boy turns the tv on and happens to catch the 1st building go down. After seeing people jumping from the Centers, he thinks that his dad also jumped. He even had a picture that he enlarged trying to see if that was him, but couldn't really tell. He that took the answering machine and replaced it with another one so that his mom wouldn't have to hear it. He then found a box in his mom's clothes closet and he pulled down this box to see what was in it and this vase broke an small envelope with a key in it and the word Black written on it. He then decided to find out what the key unlocked. He then got to meet all these wonderful people with the name Black. He also took pictures of each and everyone of them. In end it turned out to belong to this Black man and he told him how he met his father. This movie just made me cry. He so wanted something wonderful to happened. What a great movie this was.
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