Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
In this image released by Warner Bros. Pictures, Thomas Horn portrays as Oskar Schell and Tom Hanks portrays Thomas Schell in a scene from "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close ." (AP Photo/Warner Bros. Pictures, François Duhamel)
Movie review: Not ‘Close’ enough to capturing 9/11 grief
Review » Drama cleans up the rough edges of tragedy.
First Published Jan 19 2012 04:00 pm • Last Updated Jan 20 2012 08:43 am

Faced with a movie like "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," which centers on a New York family in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, one response is to say "too soon."

It’s not too soon for thoughtful movies to examine the emotional toll of the many deaths on that fateful Tuesday morning . It is too soon for a movie that — like director Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel — softens the blow by blithely equating that tragic event to the billion other ways human beings die, grieve and heal.

At a glance

HHhj

‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’

A boy tries to make sense out of his father’s death on 9/11 in a movie that treats that tragic day a bit too blithely.

Where » Area theaters.

When » Opens Friday, Jan. 20.

Rating » PG-13 for emotional thematic material, some disturbing images, and language.

Running time » 129 minutes.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Oskar Schell (newcomer Thomas Horn) is a 9-year-old with a lot on his mind. He is a junior inventor, inspired by his father, Thomas (Tom Hanks), a jeweler with a furtive imagination. But it’s been a year since he was able to talk to his father. It’s the fall of 2002, and Dad was in an upper floor of one of the World Trade Center towers when the planes hit.

Oskar’s father often devised riddles for him, and Oskar believes he has found the clue to his father’s last mystery: a key in an envelope, hidden in a vase. The envelope has the word "Black" written on it. Oskar becomes convinced that once he finds the lock this key fits, he will learn his father’s final legacy. So he looks up all of the 600-plus Blacks in the New York City phone book and sets about to talk to each one.

The search brings Oskar into contact with a wide variety of New Yorkers — from a quilting circle to an angry divorcee (Viola Davis). It also brings him together with The Renter (Max von Sydow), a strange mute man who rents a room in the apartment of his grandmother (Zoe Caldwell) across the street.

At the same time, Oskar is wrestling with a secret: He keeps the family’s answering machine hidden away from his crying mom (Sandra Bullock) because it contains the last recording of his father’s voice.

Daldry employs much care and craft in every moment, every shot. The movie is burnished to the point where nothing will catch on its smooth surface, including any emotional attachment from the audience.

The performances are touching, particularly Bullock as the grieving mother. Von Sydow, never speaking, delivers a strong take on a man coping with decades of regret.

Screenwriter Eric Roth ("Forrest Gump") adapts Foer’s novel by stressing Oskar’s quirkiness, his obsessive list-making and journaling, and his beyond-his-years belief that he must be responsible for the well-being of everyone around him — his grieving mother especially. In so doing, the movie infantilizes the audience’s response to Thomas’ death and the deaths of all the others in the towers. Because he can’t comprehend the magnitude of 9/11 (something adults still haven’t managed to do), the movie never even comes close.




Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.