70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exploitation? Quite Unfair
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the fourth feature film by British director Stephen Daldry. Daldry emerged in 2000 with his beautifully written drama Billy Elliot. He followed with progressively less impressive efforts (The Hours and The Reader) but still gave a decent effort with every new try. This film is written by Eric Roth (the writer of Forrest Gump and The...
Published 22 months ago by Teriek Williams
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good movie but not as good as I was expecting it to be. The kid did a great job though. I say B.
"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...
Published 20 months ago by Tony Heck
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70 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exploitation? Quite Unfair,Billy Elliot. He followed with progressively less impressive efforts (The Hours and The Reader) but still gave a decent effort with every new try. This film is written by Eric Roth (the writer of Forrest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and produced by mega-producer Scott Rudin (No Country for Old Men). The film is based on the book of the same name (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Movie Tie-In): A Novel) by Jonathan Safran Foer and stars Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, John Goodman and Jeffrey Wright. The film centers around a young boy who lost his enigmatic father during the tragic events of 9/11 and his meticulous search for the lock a key found in a vase belonging to his father opens.
The film opens with a jumper off the twin towers referencing the tragic leaps to death made by people as they grasped a hopeless situation. Oskar Schell, the son of a jeweler (played by Tom Hanks), remarks throughout the film, his experience of "The Worst Day." Thomas Horn, the young actor who plays Oskar, does a more than admirable job with his performance. He gives emotional bursts of energy with each new scene, giving off the shattered hope and sky-rocketing guilt of his fruitless searches to become closer with the memory of his lost father. Sandra Bullock gives one of the most honest performances of her career as a wayward mother searching for her composure of an out of control situation. Max von Sydow, a seeming vestige of hope, breathes new life into the film halfway in with his muted dialogue disseminated by pen and pad. Tom Hanks, great as always, plays a dynamic and involved father.
The emotional depth of the film is immense with every heartache truly felt especially with just one image of the towers collapsing. Stephen Daldry weaves together his most compelling drama since 2000's Billy Elliot and in much more morose surroundings. Very few, if any, document that tragic day with such intensity and shows what it means to be affected by the day that will truly live in infamy. The criticism of the film demonstrates that some people may not be receptive to the material because it's too difficult to revisit or possibly too melodramatic to tolerate. Understanding that every filmgoer's experience is fundamentally different, I couldn't help but be affected by the film possibly in a way that the people next to me or the people who have watched the film had not been. At first I didn't not understand it especially as the elephant of the room seemed to be based on an unfair estimation.
The elephant in the room with this melodramatic rendition is that question of exploitation. Some critics and Amazon reviewers have voiced the opinion that the film exploits the events of 9/11 for financial gain and cheap dramatic effect. The problem with such logic is that several films have been made over the years depicting real life tragic events such as Titanic, Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down, and many of these films were not viewed as exploitive. Did depicting the tragedy of Pearl Harbor or the Titanic soil the memory of those who died? Were the sacrifices made by the servicemen in World Trade Center and members of flight United 93 trivialized by depicting them in World Trade Center and United 93 respectively? Absolutely not. What those films did as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close does, is to put the viewer in the shoes of those experiencing the tragedy and giving a greater understanding of what that event was like not to mention what it meant to those involved.
Criticize the film if it's too melodramatic or if the young actor is too annoying. Maybe the tone is uneven or the premise is emotionally manipulative. However, calling the film exploitive applies a double standard not applied to films of the same nature making the whole argument flimsy at the least. If unable to understand that, realize that the film sets out to present 9/11 through the eyes of a young child and demonstrates the psychological, sociological and emotional confliction not to mention the guilt involved with the main character who is a de facto representative, emblem or figurative reference of surviving family members of 9/11 victims. It gives those who didn't truly experience the event for what it was a chance to understand it in both the short and long-term sense. And sometimes, cinema is a medium for emotion and can be as this film proves, as powerful as the human heart allows it to be. My understanding of the criticism of this film is that there are some hard hearts and closed minds on the issue of 9/11 and ability to express it in a cinematic setting, which is unfair.
I'm a born and bred New Yorker. I was five months past my 13th birthday on September 11, 2001 and the event went completely over my head. I was too young to understand the magnitude of the event and what it meant for the country or even the world for that matter. It was something I was unaffected by. I knew no one who was in the tragedy, affected by the tragedy or killed in the tragedy. I even knew of no one who knew of someone who was remotely related to the tragedy. In many ways, I did not feel it because I was a kid who could not relate to death as a concept or tragedy as a reality. Ten years later, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close brought me to the tragedy and allowed me to the first time relive the event and process it emotionally, something I couldn't do ten years ago. Despite the unpleasantness of it, I truly appreciate the film for allowing me to relate to the tragedy in a way I never could have under any other circumstance. If this film can do that for one person, then it's less exploitive than you think.
92 of 104 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Boy's Quest in EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE,
This review is from: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (DVD + Ultraviolet Digital Copy) (DVD)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.
51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Coming of Age Story,
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.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected joy,
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.
28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Movie!,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Amazon Instant Video)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!
54 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can I say Uncontrollable Sobbing??,
This review is from: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Amazon Instant Video)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.
30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely just long enough and just conscious enough....,
This review is from: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Amazon Instant Video)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....
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good movie but not as good as I was expecting it to be. The kid did a great job though. I say B.,
This review is from: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (DVD + Ultraviolet Digital Copy) (DVD)"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.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The book is unbearable. The movie isn't.,
This review is from: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Amazon Instant Video)Skillfully directed by Stephen Daldry and equally well-edited by Claire Simpson, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is about as good as it can be considering you spend two hours with two of the more annoying characters in recent memory. The first is 11-year-old Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) whose father died in 9/11 World Trade Center attacks. The second is Oskar's mute companion (Max Von Sydow), who answers questions by writing on paper, or flashing a "yes" or "no" tattooed on his palms. Together, they make a twee duo on a Journey for Truth. A Journey that's not really triggered by Oskar's dad but seems to be because the source novel, by Jonathan Safran Foer, needs some reason for the verbally-advanced-but-possibly-autistic Oskar to think he must walk the streets of New York City in search of a person named "Black." If the summary seems ridiculous, that's because the story is. Damn if it doesn't go down easier than it should, though. The book is unbearable. The movie isn't.
Thomas Schell (Hanks) bonds best with persnickety Oskar when he sends him on fictional quests in the city. Maps. Treasures. Clues. So, a year after Hanks' character dies, Oskar finds a key in a vase. And a name: "Black." Oskar fancies it as his father's last mission for him, and each Saturday he walks New York City rattling a tambourine for company, because his personality leaves him too scared for public transportation. Soon, a "renter" from his grandmother's apartment (Von Sydow) joins Oskar. He's tall and sad, with a secret out there in plain view. Folks tend to receive Oskar and this mute better than you might think for New Yorkers, and there's a reason for that, although it strains credulity just like the rest of the story.
The Foer novel - and screenplay by Eric Roth - piles on props, symbols and emotional subplots. How does Oskar's mom (Sandra Bullock) manage her son's weekly disappearances? Can Oskar come to terms with his final one-sided conversation with his dad over an answering machine? Does that key open any lock? Will the "renter" face up to his failures? While Roth wisely cuts out a lot of Foer's horsecrap - grandma's memory of French-kissing her sister has been redacted, thank God - if you scrutinize the details too closely, you'll find several don't hold up, especially Oskar's fixation with one of the leaping bodies from the World Trade Center.
Oskar, the character, doesn't hold up. His level of organization - not to mention his acute antenna for adult emotions - are far too developed for a kid his age and supposed social struggles. He lapses into bizarre patterns of speech, talking without contractions, as if reciting a collegiate term paper. In one scene, he makes a calculated choice regarding the answering machine that's cruel beyond his comprehension; in another, he's making scrap book beyond his years as recompense for the initial cruelty he never acknowledges. Horn's voice quavers, breaks, bleats. He keeps his eyes wide in every scene. He's a smart, serious kid - he won's Jeopardy's Kids Week competition, which indirectly led to this role - and that works against him here.
Von Sydow, an Academy Award nominee for this performance, does a lot with pauses, shuffles and facial expressions to make up for the lack of dialogue. It's excellent acting for a shaggy dog of a character. Hanks has a small role depicting what amounts to a saint. Bullock's out of her depth, but that's no sea change. Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright are a weary, estranged couple, careful in their performances.
Daldry ("The Hours" and "The Reader") took plenty of shots from critics for his "exploitative" direction; that's code, at least in this case, for effective work. Whereas the book dawdles and tumbles into nonsense, the movie clips along. Daldry's big on fast-moving montages and matching images from scene to scene, and if you're trying to convey connectivity, there are worse proclivities to have. I disagree with his choice of title sequence and the movie's final image - which is a stark juxtaposition - but that's what the book gives him. It's bad there. It's bad here. In between is a polished, effective piece of emotional snookery, anchored by a lead character you'll love or hate. It doesn't work on me - Oskar's a bridge too far, and the novel is odious - but it will work on some.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure why, but a let down.,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (Amazon Instant Video)While this has all the aspects of a great movie, for some reason it's just not. It's boring and slow to develop. When the story does develop it is a bit of a let down.
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Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Stephen Daldry