Monday, 11 June 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Film Review

Extremely Loud &Incredibly Close is a film that received huge critical acclaim following its cinematic release, making it into the Best Picture nominees at the Oscars.  After seeing the publicity surrounding this film, I was intrigued and put it on my must-see list. Now, thanks to Warner Bros I have had the chance to watch this movie on Blu-Ray.

DVD, Blu Ray

The film is based on a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, written following the devastation of 9/11.  It focuses on the life of Oskar Schell, a young boy trying to come to terms with the unfathomable loss of his much adored father (Tom Hanks) following the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.  

Oskar is a very sensitive and highly intelligent child with an inconclusive Asperger's diagnosis.  His father always challenged his condition in a fun way giving his son adventurous expeditions to complete in order for him to face his fears.  Losing his dad in such a sudden, violent and inexplicable manner leaves Oskar feeling bereft and helpless. Hanging on to his memories and to his father's final ansaphone messages made on "the worst day" Oskar is desperate to make sense of his loss and find answers.

When he finds a key hidden in a blue vase in his father's closet on the anniversary of his death, Oskar is certain that it is a final mission that will bring him closer to his dad.  The name 'Black' written on the envelope that the key is in, leads Oskar to search out all of the residents of New York with that surname, a daunting task for someone with Oskar's fears and one that he calculated would take 3 years.  He meticulously plans his mission and sets out to find the lock that the key will open.

On his journey he discovers many people who all have their own story to tell and who are touched by this special little boy and his quest. He forms an unlikely friendship with a mute man that rents a room with his grandmother.  Communicating by scrawling down notes in a book, there is humour and warmth in their encounters.  There is also an unanswered question as to the true relationship between Oskar's family and 'the renter'. Newcomer Thomas Horn who plays Oskar is an incredible actor with such depth and emotion in his portrayal of a lost boy looking for answers in a world which makes no sense.  Definitely a face to look out for in the future.

For me, it was Sandra Bullock's performance that really tugged at my heartstrings.  Her character doesn't feature heavily in the film but is pivotal to the whole story.  As a mother to a troubled boy, she struggles with the loss of her husband alongside the loss of her relationship with her son.  She seems distant and unable to offer any support or provide any answers to Oskar.  Her grief is palpable and her helplessness is a reflection of Oskar's in the aftermath of 9/11. The film is a testament to the endurance of love in the face of both personal and national mourning. I wept buckets at the end of the movie, but I won't give any of the plot away by explaining why!

Although Oskar doesn't find the answer he is looking for, his mission brings him and the people whose lives he touches so much more.  The resolution is one of acceptance and forgiveness.  Many questions remain unanswered because as in life, some things just can't be explained.

I really enjoyed this film as did my husband and 16 year old Ella.  It is quite a long film (2 hours 10 minutes) but I didn't feel it drag at all.  It is gentle storytelling with a powerful edge.  The subject matter is very emotional as Oskar's grief is so raw and something we can all relate to.  Don't expect action or a fast paced plot line.  Instead immerse yourself in this moving and unusual journey and enjoy some excellent acting performances along the way.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is available to buy now (certificate 12).


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