The Twenty-First Century

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close [2011]

Let’s face it: Academy voters love movies that stir up your emotions. Case in point: “Ordinary People”, “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash”. Want more proof? “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”, a post 9/11 movie about a boy mourning the death of his father. There is nothing more painful or poignant than that, and I have nothing but respect for this kind of subject, but I still walked away disappointed with the end result. When a film aims for greatness and falls just short of its target, one can nit-pick its failings. That’s exactly what I’m doing here, simply because the movie has so many good attributes, including a tour de force performance by newcomer Thomas Horn. Truth be told, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” put me in an awkward situation as someone who is supposed to deliver a clear-cut opinion of a film: I didn’t love it, yet there are passages in it that are so touching I don’t think I’ll ever forget them. When a movie has that much heart, and reveals as much care and thought as this one does, the fact that it’s imperfect doesn’t seem to matter so much. I hope what I’m saying is making sense, because I would hate to dismiss a movie as daring and honest as this one. It is daring because it’s all about emotions. Oskar (Horn) had a special relationship with his father (Tom Hanks) in which the fun-loving, imaginative dad created ambitious New York City adventures for his son. He’s the kind of father a son would idolize. And that he did, up until the day he tragically died. The boy finds a way to deal with his grief when he breaks a blue vase in his father’s closet and finds an envelope with a key inside. The envelope is marked “Black.” So Oskar  sets out across New York to find all 472 people named Black in the book and find an answer for the missing lock. Director Stephen Daldry, together with screenwriter Eric Roth have done a good job, framing the search for the missing lock with heartbreakingly realistic scenes of a heartbroken little boy who wants answers for his father’s death. But because the story goes on for over two hours, the film doesn’t flow as seamlessly as it might and feels uneven. That’s the harshest criticism I can level at this worthy film, but it is a problem, and it may leave some moviegoers disappointed. But at the same time, director Stephen Daldry have created a kind of testament I’m sure many viewers will respond to, even if it isn’t flawless. Either way, judge for yourself.

Rating: 2.5/4

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