Today: February 25, 2024
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Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close

– By Laura Walkinshaw

 

It is hard not to cry – or at least well up – during
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, an extremely touching and incredibly
inspirational tale of life after 9/11.

 

Pulling at the heartstrings
doesn’t even come close with this adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer‘s best-selling 2005 novel.

 

Despite being
panned by the critics, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has been given an Oscar nod with a
nomination for Best Picture, making it the worst reviewed film in the last ten
years to be nominated for the award.

 

Played by
first-time actor Thomas Horn (who
won US quiz show Jeopardy!), Oskar
Schell is an inventive 11-year-old New Yorker whose father, Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks), dies in the 9/11 terrorist
attacks.

 

Flashbacks
through the eyes of the youngster reveal his memories of a perfect father and
their adventures around New York – created to help Oskar overcome his social
anxieties – while his mother (Sandra
Bullock
) smiles contently from the sidelines.

 

A year after
what he calls ‘The Worst Day’, Oskar plucks up the courage to look at his dad’s
belongings and, hidden inside a vase, discovers a key in an envelope labelled
‘Black’.

 

Remembering the
other “reconnaissance expeditions” his father sent him on, Oskar immediately
thinks the key has been purposely left for him to find and sets off on a quest
across New York’s five boroughs searching for the lock it will open.

 

He plans to
visit all 472 people named Black in the New York City phone books, despite
working out that it will take him three years to complete the task, in the hope
that he will receive one last message from his dead father.

 

Although each
visit doesn’t give him the answers he needs, he gains so much more by learning
to talk to people and relate to their stories, discovering that like him they
have also lost loved ones, helping him on the road to acceptance.

 

Oskar’s mission
starts to take shape when he accidentally meets The Renter (Max von Sydow), a mute old man who
rents a room at his grandmother’s apartment. The two instantly have a
connection and continue the journey together.

 

In contrast,
Oskar’s mother Linda is the one person he struggles to relate to most,
resulting in some of the most heart-wrenching moments in the film as both
attempt to come to terms with losing the person who has bridged the gap between
them all this time.

 

But while Linda
appears absent and consumed in her own grief of losing her beloved husband
throughout the film – often leaving the viewers wondering why on earth she’d
let her child wander the streets of New York alone – she is in fact connecting
with Oskar in ways of which he is not even aware.

 

Directed by Stephen Daldry, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is an emotional, powerful
and somewhat chilling story of overcoming grief and, for the character of
Oskar, understanding that life isn’t all about finding answers.

 

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