Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Bottom Line: Extremely underrated and incredibly misunderstood.

Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks

Touching, heartfelt escapade about Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), a nine-year-old boy with Asperger’s. He has spent his entire life in New York City bonding with his father (Tom Hanks) and not seeming to care much about his mother (Sandra Bullock). Upon his father’s tragic death in the World Trade Center on 9/11, the day he consistently refers to as “The Worst Day”, he is devastated. Two years later in this occasionally nonlinear story, he decides to search through his father’s closet out of mere curiosity. Whilst attempting to grab something off a shelf, he accidentally topples a vase over and breaks it. The vase holds an small envelope marked with a specific surname, and that envelope holds a key. Desperate to find what the key means to him (and his father), Oskar searches through the city questioning everyone with that surname of their knowledge of the key.

EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE is extremely underrated and incredibly misunderstood. The one thing truly amazing about the film is how great Thomas Horn makes out in his debut acting role, especially as a lead character. I can vaguely remember him winning quite some money during Kids Week on the television game show Jeopardy! two years ago. He proves how smart he is here, as well. When the script for the film notes that he counted the number of times his father asked “Is anyone there?” on the answering machine on “The Worst Day”, that’s one thing. When he makes that statement, among many other possibilities, easy for us to believe. The other great performance in the film is from Max von Sydow. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Academy Awards for his impressive portrayal of a man we initially know only as “the Renter”, because he lives for some of the time in Oskar’s grandmother’s apartment. What’s so great about his performance is that in all his screen time, he speaks not one word. His character has stopped speaking because of a horrific event early on in his life; to communicate, he has handy a pocket notebook in which he answers questions, or if the question he is asked is simple, his left hand is labelled “yes” and his right “no”.

The first few minutes of EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE, a title I won’t dare to abbreviate because it entails grand only in its entirety, are bound to cause wonder as to why it was nominated for Best Picture, but once those first few minutes have passed, it’s quite clear: the writer, cast, and director have all taken the subject matter into their hands together and handled it very seriously as it should be. Granted, their are quite a few flaws that are almost impossible to not pick up on, such as that there is humor placed where it shouldn’t be (i.e. the “lie-counting” Oskar does); Oskar goes a bit over the top with his rambling (rather than commiserating, we start to plead for the moment when he closes his mouth); and it sometimes doesn’t seem all too realistic (i.e. Oskar is always skipping school without consequence or warning). Other than that, this is a nice film that should leave you thinking. (It’s not every day we see a movie about a kid’s experience with 9/11, is it?)


23 thoughts on “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

  1. I’m so glad there are other people who appreciated this film. I for one LOVED it. I do believe it deserved the Best Pic nom, and quite frankly, I liked it far better than most of the other nominees. It just really spoke to me, and I’m still trying to figure out why. I haven’t been so moved like this by a movie in a long, long while. I saw it two weeks ago and it still lingers in the mind.

    And I LOVE those minamalist movie posters you have. I’ll have to check out that Tumblr site.

    Great write-up!

  2. It got terrible review yes, but it did get a Best Picture nomination so not sure if that constitutes something that is underrated. Critics can be wrong. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was originally released to bad reviews back in 1980. It even earned a couple of nominations for Razzie Awards, including Worst Director and Worst Actress (Duvall). I suspect time may be kinder to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.Glad you enjoyed the film too. πŸ™‚

  3. It seems underrated, and I plan on seeing it sometime. But it still bugs me that this got a best picture nod when so many other great movies from that year didn’t (Drive, Warrior, and more).

    • The one you should really be beating up for getting a BP nod is War Horse. It did not deserve it. I still have to watch Tree of Life and Moneyball, but I’ve heard both of those are fantastic so I won’t even bother trying to tell you to hate them. (And you’ve seen them, I think. :D) Next to War Horse is probably Hugo, which I think was nominated only because it was a love letter to the cinema. But you’ve seen it, I know, and it wasn’t half bad, so I’ll let you decide whether it deserved a nomination or not. And I am VERY pissed off still that Warrior wasn’t nominated. 😦

      • Hugo didn’t deserve it for sure. It wasn’t bad in any sense of the word, but noting I would put on best of the year. If I put Hugo on a list, I would put it in the nice try list. I have not seen War Horse or The Tree of Life yet though. Moneyball for sure deserved all the nominations it got. I am right there with you on Warrior.

      • Yes I gave Hugo a 3/4. My rating works a bit different then that. When I give a 3 that means it was a good movie that should be seen. But at the same time if you didn’t, you wouldn’t miss out on anything too big. 3 stars usually get my nice try because they are good movies that were flawed. Also Hugo had a great concept and it never knew what it wanted to be. It was a good movie with so much more potential. I would have given it 2 and a half stars if visually it wasn’t as amazing. 1 and a half and below are my really bad ratings. 2 and two and a half just mean somewhat okay with a good amount of flaws, and it’s forgettable. Hope this answered your question, sorry if it didn’t make sense (tell me if it didn’t and I will explain in a less bunched up way).

      • I meant 2 was forgettable not 2 and a half, sorry if I said that, rushed that answer (it didn’t make sense, why I sent that I don’t know). He is a real answer.

        4 stars = Outstanding (this is a movie where it was either flawless, or get me so caught up in the movie I didn’t notice them. I didn’t say masterpiece because not all movie I give 4 stars are masterpieces).

        3 and a half stars = An excellent movie that works on almost ever level. There are usually one or two things that keep them from getting my perfect rating. It could be the ending, one performance was bad, score didn’t fit, ect..

        3 stars = This is for good movies, not excellent or outstanding ones. There are some flaws but it is still good, or really good (also entertaining). Examples for Hugo is it never knew where it wanted to go with it’s story. It either should have stayed with the father son thing or been a love letter to cinema the whole time. There are other little flaws, but this is the main one. What also helps gets my rating above 3 (aside form it being a lot less flawed). is if the movie stays with me, or makes me keep thinking about it in some way.

        2 and a half stars = A decent movie that you can rent, noting to rush out to see (example is Pirates 4) because it is pretty heavily flawed in one way or another, but it was still fun.

        2 stars = Was okay, but had flaws and ultimately forgettable.

        1 and a half stars = Pretty much the same as 1, don’t bother.

        1 star = Better than 0, but not by much. A movie that has so little positive things, that you would be wasting your time if you saw it.

        0= atrocious (no one should see this).

        Hope it helped.

        • Thanks for clearing it up for me. I still like a grading scale or a 5-star scale because you can be more specific before even the review. But then again, well-known critics such a Travers and Ebert use four stars to rate films, and I’m assuming that’s your rationale for using it.

      • Yeah, when i was young (or I should say younger), I would always read Ebert’s reviews and Travers, I would always love to read the review, then guess how many stars they gave it (I actually still do that sometimes). I tried using 5 when I started out on flixster, but it just didn’t gel for me like 4 did.

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