I wasn’t sure I was ready to see Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close. Even though 10 years have passed, 9/11 still is a very raw and difficult memory.
The film is about a New York City family’s response to a 9/11 loss that leaves a gaping void in their lives — but it is about a lot more than that. The story is told from the perspective of Oskar, a bright boy who suffers from obsessive/compulsive tendencies and related emotional problems. His father tries to connect him to the world through games and challenges. When 9/11 sweeps his father from his life, Oskar tries to make sense of his loss while at the same time keeping his father’s memory alive, and his mother tries to help Oskar as she struggles with her own, overwhelming grief. Oskar decides to accept a new challenge that ends up also causing him to interact with his fellow New Yorkers — all of whom also are attempting to cope with their own issues. The script manages to explore the emotions of 9/11 without being cheaply exploitative.
I thought Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close was a unique, intensely powerful movie. Thomas Horn makes his acting debut as Oskar, and he turns in a stunning, riveting performance as Oskar wrestles with feelings of loss, curiosity, and guilt. Tom Hanks plays Oskar’s father with customary deftness, and Sandra Bullock delivers a quietly moving performance as Oskar’s mother. The film is filled with many fine performances, including John Goodman as the doorman of Oskar’s apartment building, Max von Sydow as the mute Renter, who communicates through notes, tattooed “yes” and “no” on his palms, and facial expressions and body language, and Viola Davis as Abby Black, one of the people Oskar encounters.
An event as momentous as 9/11 deserves appropriately powerful cinematic treatment. Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close delivers.