Title: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Director: Stephen Daldry
Starring: Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow
Release Date: Out now
It is extremely difficult for films that attempt to capture the emotional state of a society in the time following a tragic event to approach the topic with a deftness that evokes the powerful emotions warranted, without being too manipulative. Unfortunately, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close edges towards the latter, but even then lacks the necessary gravitas and is further unaided by a contrived plot.
Set a year after the 9/11 attacks and with flashbacks to the “worst day”, as it is described throughout, the film attempts to be a snapshot of New York after 9/11, with the tale of Oskar Schell (newcomer Thomas Horn) as he struggles to overcome the death of his father, Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks), who was killed while in the World Trade Centre during the attacks.
The plot contrivances come thick and fast when Oskar finds an envelope with “Black” written on it and a key inside with which, he believes, he will find the matching lock that will provide the answers to explain his father’s death. In his attempt to find the lock he scurries around – largely unsupervised – visiting everybody with the surname Black in the New York area.
The primary fault with the film is that the somewhat absurd contrivance serves as an extremely frail structure with which the film attempts to capture the emotional state of the American Everyman – aka Mr/Mrs Black – following 9/11 and, as a result, fails to be evocative. The film’s approach to capturing New Yorkers’ grievances, frustrations, and attempts to make sense of post-9/11 New York through this implausible narrative is in no way subtle and often heavy-handed.
Furthermore, the central character loosely ties the narrative together. Oskar is supposed to be endearing and honest as he guides the audience through the journey of emotion and although it is hinted that he may (or may not) have Asperger’s syndrome, he merely comes across as being crude, arrogant and, well, even a little creepy.
This is a subject most certainly worth exploring and although Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has a few touching – if not a little simplistic – moments, the film does not have the required emotional catharsis to tackle a tragedy of this magnitude.
In a Nutshell: A very contrived version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time that fails in its attempt to capture the psychological state of New York in the wake of 9/11.