Last year, America remembered and honored the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Regardless of whether or not a person was present in New York City that day, it seems that everyone has his or her own story of 9/11. Almost anyone could tell you where they were when they saw the smoking buildings for the first time, whether in person or on TV, or who they might have known who suffered from the ordeal. While many students on campus were only in grade school when the tragedy occurred, they still remember how much of an impact that single day made on the entire country.
Everybody has their own story, but some are a bit more personal. Meet Oskar Schell: a young, gifted boy haunted by the memory of his father’s death in the World Trade Center. With his sharp, inventive mind, Oskar sets out to discover the purpose of a key his father left behind after his death, following the limited clues to what it could unlock. With firm determination, Oskar sets out on a journey across New York, embracing his sorrows as well as his fears in hopes of holding onto the memory of his father in the new film “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”
Based on a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” premiered on Jan. 20. Under the direction of Stephen Daldry, the film stars veteran actors Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, as well as young newcomer Thomas Horn. Hanks plays Oskar’s beloved father, who has an affinity for playing riddling mind games. Opposite of Hanks is Bullock as Oskar’s mother, who has made herself unreachable to her son after what Oskar refers to as “the worst day.” Another character who catches his interest is the mysterious man known only as “the Renter,” played by Max von Sydow. The Renter speaks only through written notes and befriends Oskar on his search through the districts of New York.
While not many at Elizabethtown College have been able to see the new flick yet, it has most definitely caught the curiosity of students around campus. “It really did catch my attention,” first-year Briena Coleman said. “I saw the trailer, and it just looks like [a movie] I really want to see.”
First-year Sarah Nanovic agreed that she is also eager to see the film, especially after hearing positive feedback about the book. “I’ve heard so many good things about it,” Nanovic said. “I would be really excited going in, and I feel like I would walk out with that same good feeling I had coming in.”
This film definitely holds one’s interest, from the serious and intense to the more heartwarming scenes. While I’m not much of a crier when it comes to movies like this (unlike my roommate who saw the film with me), I definitely got sucked into the dialogue and interpretation of a number of emotional scenes. Between Oskar’s memories of his father and his mother’s attempts to slowly reach out to him, this film definitely has a lot of heart amid the Schell family’s personal struggle to heal after 9/11.
I also found the script and plot very intriguing in how they intertwined many of the initially unanswered questions and mysteries together, mainly concerning the plausibility of the truths behind the riddles and myths Oskar’s father often posed for him to solve.
Stephen Daldry creates an amazing visual of the world of New York through Oskar’s eyes and those of the people he encounters throughout the film. While Oskar’s childlike innocence definitely plays a part in the way he sees his home, a contributing factor comes from implications that Oskar may have a condition similar to Asperger’s Syndrome. This adds a sense of heightened detail-orientation within Oskar’s perspective and fears, as seen through his inner monologues. It was elements such as these that I found very skillfully presented and convincingly-portrayed by Horn.
In short, I have a lot of positive feedback for “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” Eric Roth’s screenwriting combined with Foer’s novel gave the story a lot of heart, with an occasional touching moment of humor. I also found this film to be very skillfully-shot and cast, and I was especially impressed with Horn’s breakout performance. I couldn’t find a lot to dislike about this film; however, it does focus on some very deep and emotionally-trying situations. Yes, it is a sad film, but I will say that it ends on a very uplifting and redemptive note.
One of the film’s ending themes involved the fact that, no matter who you are or what you’ve faced in life, everyone is a survivor of their own daily struggles, with their own stories to tell, and I think that is a lesson that a lot of people can take away from this film. It’s these stories and struggles that can, in a sense, define a person, and it can become a form of motivation that makes us stronger throughout our lives.