When tragedy strikes in life we can either run away from it, or face it head on. Then again, maybe there’s another approach. Perhaps we should do like Oskar Schell, (Thomas Horn) did in the heart rendering drama “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”. Oskar systematically charted a course to try to make sense of his father’s untimely separation from him.
Grief is something that everyone deals with differently and yet at the same time very much the same. While there is an overwhelming lack of acceptance or denial at first, this is often followed by anger, resentment, and a feeling of being cheated. For Oskar it was all these things and more. A boy who while extremely bright, in fact bordering genius, at the same time struggled with many symptoms of Asperger’s disease (Autism).
This movie was not only captivating but mixed with so many emotions that at times I found myself laughing and the next minute tearing up. Thomas Horn was amazing in his role of young Oskar. He eloquently portrayed the struggles of a child dealing with the sudden death of his father. A father, who was not only missed, but one who could not even be given a decent burial due to the circumstances of his death. I could not help but be drawn into the life of young Oskar, feeling every emotion, every anxiety and anxious moment throughout Thomas’s entire performance.
The events of 911 are brought out in a very different way in this film. Rather than dealing with the event itself, it instead shows us the life struggle of just one boy and his mother as they try to cope after their great loss.
Oskar’s Father, played by (Tom Hanks), did an amazing job in every scene in which he appeared. Director Stephen Daldry’s use of flashbacks was artfully interwoven throughout the film revealing life as it was before 911. A few of these flashbacks gave us a glimpse of how hard Oskar’s father worked to build a relationship with his emotionally handicapped son. He would create adventures for Oskar that would become full fledged expeditions. Often these expeditions were nothing more than scavenger hunts designed to find clues to solve an even greater mystery. These adventures proved to be the glue that bound them together and made Oskar feel fulfilled.
One such adventure involved the story of a Sixth Borough in New York City!
Oscar’s mother, played by (Sandra Bullock), at times became the brunt of Oscar’s anger over the loss of his father. However, being an understanding mother, she remained supportive of her son. She continually monitored his well being even when Oskar did not realize that she was watching his every move.
The main story plot dealt with Oskar attempting to find a lock to a key that he found in his father’s closet. It was Oskar’s hope to do one more quest which would help him to keep his father alive in his life. The back story in the film centered on an elderly gentleman who had taken up renter status in Oskar’s Grandmothers residence. This elderly gentleman played by Max Von Sydow, befriended Oskar, hoping to help him in his quest to find the missing lock and unravel the last mystery that his father left behind for Oskar to unveil.
Oskar reminisces with Max about a game he use to play with his Dad. They called them oxymoron wars!
The camera usage in this film was also extraordinary. Many times it would zoom in on Oscar’s feet, hands, face or eyes, aiding us in following Oskar’s every move and emotion during his adventure. Other times it would fade back giving us a panoramic view of the distant buildings, bridges, and surroundings which at time frightened young Oskar.
“And I’m so scared every time I leave home. Every time I hear a door open. And I don’t know a single thing that I didn’t know when I started! It’s these times I miss my dad more than ever even if this whole thing is to stop missing him at all! It hurts too much. Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll do something very bad.”
Oscar’s narration about his fears:
The music score for this film was also exceptional. While not overbearing, it was powerful, and seemed to always match the particular emotion that was being felt at the time.
Hear the music score for the credits below:
This film received an Oscar nomination in 2012, however it was going up against the amazing Hugo (which I reviewed earlier this year), War Horse, and a few other cinematic masterpieces. Most critics were very unkind in their early reviews of this film, but then, I’m not like most critics. In fact, I feel this film deserves more accolades than it has received which is the reason I have finally published this special tribute here!
Young Horn truly did more than just perform amazingly in this film. He also gave a continual monolog narration throughout the film. I have never seen or heard a movie done quite like this before. This young actor, who until this film was virtually an unknown, deserves a standing ovation for his performance. I for one cannot praise him enough for the gift he has given me which now resides in my DVD collection.
I realize that many months have passed since this film was shown in the theater where I first viewed it. However, tonight I watched it once more, enjoying it even more the second time around. I think understanding Oskar’s character and having a little knowledge of a child who has Autism or Asperger’s is one of the keys to the overall enjoyment of this film.
Of course, I would love to delve even deeper into this story but there is plenty of other articles on line where you can get all the spoilers should you desire. What I want to do today is nothing more than tell you how much I enjoyed this movie and while it brought back all the emotions of that terrible day of 911, or as Oskar called it “The Worst Day”, it gave me a little more insight into the lives of those who lost so much.
I highly recommend this film to everyone young and old.
If you enjoy a film that plays on your emotions and draws you in making you a party to the discovery of an unfolding mystery, then this is a film for you!
To here all the Audio clips click play below: