Shalom Life | April 23, 2014

REVIEW: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, starring Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks, is "downright perfect"

By: Jake Horowitz

Published: January 23rd, 2012 in Culture » Film » Reviews

REVIEW: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, starring Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, and first-time actor Thomas Horn hit theatres in wide-release this past weekend.

Directed by Stephen Daldry and written by Eric Roth, the film is based on the 2005 novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer.

The film’s story of loss, framed by the death of one boy’s father in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, serves as a perfect backdrop to the tale of grief, searching, and moving on that is so expertly conveyed in its two-hour running time. Tragedy, and the inability to understand that tragedy, is translated perfectly from page to screen, and the actors do a great job of getting the message across: loss is never easy.

Everything in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, from the directing to the acting to the technical aspects of the film, is downright perfect. Daldry pulls off the difficult task of balancing everything together to form a great film that doesn’t end up overly-sentimental. The score, composed by Alexandre Desplat, underscores the film subtly yet powerfully enough to drive every emotion home to the viewer. The cinematography is amongst the best in any recent film and not only looks great, but follows the journey and emotions of the protagonist, Oskar Schell, as they turn on a dime.

The acting, by Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock is some of the best work of their careers, as are the smaller roles played by John Goodman, Jeffrey Wright, and Viola Davis. Max von Sydow, in a role without a single word spoken, is sure to be nominated for an Oscar for his stellar performance as a mysterious stranger who helps Oskar on his search. With such strong subject material, everyone involved rises to the challenge of making a film that should stand the test of time and become a classic a few years down the line.

The main character, nine-year-old Oskar Schell, is the star of this film. He’s in every scene, and is the window into the themes and subtext explored. Neither Hanks, nor Bullock, nor 9/11, holds a candle to how important Oskar, and the actor playing him, is to the film. And that’s why Horn’s performance is key to everything that is experienced in the film. Daldry knew that when he was in the early stages of the film, the actor playing Oskar was everything, which is why he signed on contingent upon whether or not he found the right person for the role. After searching the country for the right person, he eventually found Horn, the Jeopardy Kids Week winner from 2010. Critics have said that Horn was robotic, annoying, and the worst part of the film. Although everyone is allowed his or her own opinion, Horn was only playing the character of Oskar as written in the book and as written in the script; and he was playing it without a single flaw. Academy Award chances of everyone and everything else aside, if Horn does not get at least a nomination for his role, it will be clear that Oscar voters do not recognize the best and the brightest of the year.

If you’re looking for a great movie, that seems to have gotten a bad wrap by most media outlets, give Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close a watch. Despite negativity from critics calling it “exploitative” and “Oscar bait,” it’s really just a solid, all-around great piece of filmmaking.

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