The storyline centers around a nine-year-old boy named Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), a timid and bright young amateur inventor and explorer. He fears everything yet is interested in everything, making expeditions set up by his father (Tom Hanks) particularly difficult. However, after his father’s death in the 9/11 attacks, there is one last quest. This will be a journey not only to find the origin of a mysterious key, but the beginning of his healing process.
Directed by: Stephen Daldry
Written by: Eric Roth, Jonathan Safran Foer
Cast: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Zoe Caldwell
The absolute best feature of this film is the emotionally evocative acting of its principle cast. After the death of the beloved family patriarch, Linda and Oskar Schell did not leave a dry eye in the house as they struggled with grief and the longing for some level of understanding. Tom Hanks delivers several heart-warming scenes as the late Thomas Schell, a loving husband and father who makes his living as a jeweler yet lives out his scientific interests by forming elaborate quests to find hidden treasure or lands. He truly made the viewers feel the loss when Thomas had passed away.
Furthermore, it is rare to find a young actor who can fully grasp the intricacies involved in playing a character with symptoms resembling asperger’s syndrome, but Thomas Horn made a believer out of many audiences. One could not help but feel for the boy as his whole world shattered around him. Sandra Bullock was exquisite, as always, playing the grieving widow and mother struggling to help her troubled son find peace in the situation.
Besides the scenic New York view, the only other thing making the film worth viewing is The Renter, who quickly becomes the only other person seeming to be able to get through to the boy. He never speaks a word, but he is more than able to say what’s on his mind.
Unfortunately, as much as I loved the acting, the scripting and filming needed some extra effort. While there are some touching and sweet moments at the beginning, the first thirty minutes has an overall slow pace. One could understand the Oskar trying to hold onto his father’s memory any way he can, and trying his best to find the origin of the key. After all, this is what he would do with his father. However, as time passed, the script became chaotic and frustrating. In the end it was not about the key, but about Oskar battling through his grief in order to not focus on what he does not have, but to see there are great people that still love him. The conclusion could have been reached without taking audiences all over the place.
During one particular fit, Oskar let out all his feelings in what seemed like one breath. It was a combination of acting, filming, and writing. Perhaps it was for the audience to feel the emotions and atmosphere weighing on him, but it just created a sense of confusion and irritation.
Acting – The acting was superb, and drew the audiences into the story. It did not hurt that two award winning veterans in the industry played the parents.
Directing – Some of the filming seemed to be a jumbled mess. The director could have taken greater care not to confuse the viewer.
Writing – Writing was unfocused and chaotic.
Sound – The sound was clear. Actors were clearly understood, and the sounds of the New York environment made you feel like you were there.
Visuals – The cinematography was well done, and seemed authentic in recreating favorite New York spots as well as other less known places.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close gets an 5 out of 10.