So first off for anyone who has actually been reading these movie blogs sorry for not posting for so long. I watched two movies in a row that weren’t very good and I felt like they didn’t have much worth reviewing so I kind of got away from it. I’m going to try and start writing more regularly now so hopefully the wait for the next one won’t be as long!
This movie was one that I was eager to see but also sort of dreading. Not because it’s a bad movie or anything but I knew it was going to be kind of a tear jerker and I didn’t want to be too depressed by it. Thankfully that wasn’t the case. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is about a young boy named Oscar (played by Thomas Horn) who loses his father in 9/11. He was pretty close with his father (played by Tom Hanks) and they used to go on these scavenger hunts all over New York City. When his father dies Oscar goes into his dad’s room hoping to find something to remember him by. He opens the closet and finds a mysterious vase that he’s never seen before. He tries to reach it but ends up knocking it onto the floor, inside he finds a mysterious key inside an envelope with the name Black on it. He gets excited thinking that this key is the start of one last hunt with his dad. He decides to start visiting everyone with the last name Black to see what they know. This starts a moving and emotional journey of people’s attempts to help Oscar the various joys and hardships in their own lives and how it all affects Oscar both good and bad.
Along the way Oscar transforms from an insecure boy who seems terrified of everything to a young man who is confident and hopeful. He meets a lot of interesting people; like Abby Black (played by Viola Davis) who despite going through her own divorce when meeting Oscar for the first time still finds the time to give him a photo and some kinds words. Another person he meets is an older man who doesn’t speak (played by Max von Sydow) and rents a room from Oscar’s grandmother(played by Zoe Caldwell.) I loved the way they were able to bond and how he helped Oscar overcome some of his fears (like riding on a subway.) His emotions were so heartfelt and he was able to say a lot despite only communicating with a pen and a pad of paper. The two become really close and Oscar is sad when the man finally decides to leave (after Oscar plays him all the messages his dad left on the answering machine on 9/11.)
There’s also another moving scene when Oscar gets really upset and yells at his mom (played by Sandra Bullock) and starts throwing a bunch of stuff in the kitchen. He wants to stop feeling so scared, sad and alone so he tries to block out anything that would set off those emotions. Even if that means trying to shut out his mom’s voice. The raw emotion on the boy’s face and the way his mom tells him that running and hiding won’t make the feelings go away really got to me. I thought it was a great moment of acting for both Horn and Bullock.
Towards the end of the movie Oscar finds a piece of paper with the words not stop looking circled on it and a number on the back. When he calls the number he finds it belongs to Abby Black one of the first people he met on his journey. She takes him to see her ex-husband who has the lock that fits Oscar’s key. Unfortunately it isn’t the answer he is looking for. Despite the unexpected results of this scene I still felt it was a really interesting moment. I felt like I connected with this man who had also lost his father and wanted to find one last thing to connect them even if they weren’t close while he was alive. After this Oscar is somewhat depressed and heads home to talk with his mom. She reveals that she knew where he was going all along (sorry if that’s a bit of a spoiler) and he shows her the scrapbook he’s been keeping about the experience. While I felt that was a nice scene I’m glad the movie didn’t end there because I felt like it would have been a little too perfect. Instead the last scene is of Oscar swinging for the first time, something he couldn’t bring himself to do when his dad was alive because he didn’t think it was safe. I feel like this scene shows how much he has grown and that there’s hope for his future. I felt like it shows that we can all find hope even in the most terrible of situations.
Overall I felt like this was a very good emotional moving story. I admit that I wasn’t expecting the main character to be a kid who was on the Autism Spectrum but Horn’s portrayal was spot on. A good example is when Oscar asks the renter if he can’t speak because he doesn’t want to or can’t and then proceeds to list the various reasons why someone wouldn’t speak. Another good example is when Oscar gets upset and starts repeating things sort of nonstop to try and comfort himself. I felt that Tom Hanks’ character was portrayed very well. The bond between father and son was clearly evident and his acting brought warmth, humor and charisma to a role that might have been forgotten otherwise. I do like Sandra Bullock and I think she’s a great actress. That being said I don’t know if this was a great fit for her. She plays Oscar’s mom well and I do feel like they had a bond. Her character did bring a sense of urgency to the actual events on 9/11 and provided kind of a stabilizing force for her kid but I feel like Bullock’s talents were a bit wasted here. The character isn’t in the movie very much and when she is it seems more like she’s just there to add more emotion and urgency which isn’t really necessary. As for the portrayal of 9/11 itself I felt there was just enough of it shown and heard that you get the idea of what’s going on and you feel the emotional turmoil of the event;but it’s not bashed into your head over and over again. I also felt like it gave me a sense of hope and didn’t just leave me feeling angry or sad like some movies or specials do.
I would highly recommend this movie. I felt the acting was superb and the story was moving and while it made feel emotional at times I felt like that wasn’t a bad thing. I also felt like it struck the right balance between fact, fiction and emotion concerning the events of 9/11.
For a trailer of the movie click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_quK9SEGYE