Posted by: greercn | February 13, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

If you were a odd child – you know if you were – this is a hard movie to watch. It takes you to the very essence of what it is to feel small and different.

For you, that may be as uncomfortable an experience as it was for me. The film chooses to focus on the child’s point of view.

Hey, if you had a normal and untroubled childhood, you may end up sneering or feeling slightly manipulated by the choices director Stephen Daldry makes. But if you were especially intelligent, creative or just plain odd, you will be shaken.

Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel was an interesting and not entirely successful attempt to write a Great American Novel about 9/11. The best parts of the book, for me, are the moving stories of the child’s grandparents, who are from Dresden in Germany.

I am sure that many others will find Oskar Schell, a nine-year-old boy who we meet two years after his father died on 9/11, unbelievable. For me, lots of childhood memories came up, in a deeply unsettling way. “Extremely” gets right under the skin of what it is to be an odd child.

Thomas Horn does an amazing job as Oskar. There were people crying, after the special free preview for members of Stratford Picturehouse.

Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks are their normal, likeable and warm selves, as they are in most movies. Yet their talents act as a mere foil for Thomas Horn’s outstanding turn.

Max von Sydow does a great deal, without speaking.  They need to sign him up for the sequel to “The Artist”.

John Goodman, Viola Davis, Jeffrey Wright and Zoe Caldwell all understand that their roles are purely there to put the spotlight on young Oskar.

The soundtrack, by Alexandre Desplat and Chris Menges’ cinematography enhance the perfect sense of being behind the child’s eyes, throughout the action.

Eric Roth takes the best bits of Foer’s dialogue and adds some touching simplicity.

Should you see it? At two hours and 10 minutes, it’s a long time to spend in one boy’s head. It’s not easy. People did leave, during the screening. On the whole, I am glad I have seen it as I found it very moving.

So, it’s your call. I suspect most critics will hate it. They will blast the oddness of Oskar’s quest to connect with his dead dad. Those recently bereaved should look at the trailer and see how they feel about it. It is in the category of the difficult movie, which will speak deeply to very few.

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