“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” starring Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks and Thomas Horn, is the story of a young boy with psychological obstacles attempting to heal after the death of his father on 9/11. This is not a movie that makes you feel comfortable. Nor is it a movie that is meant to be enjoyed so much as endured and, despite having mildly comical moments, is profoundly sad.
Though that is not, by any stretch, to say that it was bad.
Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), the aforementioned protagonist, appears to only be capable of approximately three facial expressions ranging between solemn to grieved, with a little bit of angry in between. Even so it has to be said that Thomas Horn uses those expressions well and, as child actors go, is capable of bringing unprecedented emotional depth to the screen.
Another thing that might explain the movie’s appallingly low 46 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, particularly considering that Mission Impossible received a 93 percent, is the ever present voice over. If you plan on seeing “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” you should brace yourself for the extensive internal monologue of an emotionally disturbed nine-year-old.
Unfortunately, it is very easy to forget that Oskar is only nine, which could make some of his decisions irritating for an audience that expects to be entertained rather than forced to empathize. The story is presented from the point of view of a child and that immersion can be a little unsettling, despite undoubtedly being deliberate.
On the bright side, this is a movie that understands the value of subtlety. There are more than a few things left unsaid, and this aspect of the film is executed brilliantly. It is a movie with a message, but what that message is might be different for different people. That depth is why it is worthy of its nomination for Best Picture.
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” would be incredibly refreshing in its complexity, compared to the average refuse typically seen in theaters, if only it weren’t about 9/11. That is simply not an event people want refreshed, though in the end they may be better off for having witnessed the story this movie has to tell.
Overall, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” flirts with excellence, but falls slightly short. It is mildly heavy-handed in its delivery, but at the same time it is very nice to see a recent movie that strives to do more than offer vapid entertainment. Moreover, a few scenes stand out as particularly aware and insightful about the human condition, which is far more than can be said of the vast majority of stories, let alone movies.
If you can stomach the discomfort, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is absolutely worth seeing, though it may require some intellectual and emotional effort on the part of its audience.