Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
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Oskar is convinced that his father (Hanks), who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, has left a final message for him hidden somewhere in the city. Feeling disconnected from his grieving mother (Bullock) and driven by a relentlessly active mind that refuses to believe in things that can't be observed, Oskar begins searching New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key he found in his father's closet. His journey through the five boroughs takes him beyond his own loss to a greater understanding of the observable world around him.
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A boy about 10 has a wonderful father, which is great because he seems to be perhaps an Asperger's child. The boy is bright, but has some challenges socially and a good deal of social anxiety. His father realizing this has created games geared to help his child move into the world and be able to function, and these games seem worth doing for any child. Then the father dies.
The rest of the movie is flashbacks to when the father was alive, and the child trying to come to terms with his father's death. Trying to make sense of it all. Which we all know, there often is no sense in the bad things that happen...and no special ending is given here. But in the movie, we see:
the reason behind the "good father's" motivation to be good...his own father deserting the family
an extremely GREAT grandmother helping the family
a mother trying to cope and love a challenging child, and she is in part depicted as a person also, not just a parent
we see an example of a well functioning, mature behaving, family system (I am always looking for examples of this to try out)
an imperfect grandfather, trying to redeem himself and kindness towards him demonstrated
ALL very good things, and probably helpful for a therapy film; but I was just looking for a fun movie to watch. So though I think it is worthwhile and I may suggest others especially those needing some good role modeling during stressful times watch it..It was just OK for me.
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.