Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The temptation is almost overwhelming, but I’m going to try to resist. That title…what it lends itself to! There have been so many variations already. And the film hasn’t even opened wide yet. Anyway, it’s been a nice run for director Stephen Daldry. His charming debut, “Billy Elliot”,  garnered him his first Academy Award nomination and then was eventually groomed into a smash Broadway musical. His second work, the sometimes overbearing “The Hours”, won him nominations for Best Picture and Best Director and secured a Best Actress win for Nicole Kidman(you may recall that it wouldn’t be unfair to say that she won by a nose). Movie #3  repeated the success of number two. “The Reader”(or, “Farewell, my Nazi Love”) was up for Picture, Director and finally landed Kate Winslet her Best Actress statuette after a slew of nominations dating back over a dozen years. All of that being said—I think the streak is coming to a close. Actually, I HOPE the streak is coming to a close(one can never be truly sure…Oscar noms are about a week and a half from now, btw). Who the hell greenlit “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”? Is the book this is based on even somewhat worthwhile(I’ve heard both sides)? Who was the spastically shrugging Tom Hanks character, an Ivy-league educated JEWELLER that wanted to be a scientist we are told, trying to channel with those moves? My first guess was the animated Wyborne child from 2009’s “Coraline”. Did Sandra Bullock set out to do an even worse project than her smash, Oscar-winning “The Blind Side”(at least she gives a performance in that one, ridiculous Best Actress win or not—I don’t know WHAT she’s mining here—does she?)? Why are fine performers such as Viola Davis, Jeremy Wright, Zoe Caldwell  and John Goodman showing up on the periphery of this cloying crap? Why is Max von Sydow’s character not talking? When will the young lead character Oskar(Thomas Horn) STOP talking? And the balls of wrapping all of this nonsensical faux-Odyssey, lock-searching bullshit around a fictional 9/11 story. A kewpie doll to the viewer who can discern what the 3rd act revelation about the damn key is all about…my attention was waning during the convoluted “explanation”. This is a slice of 9/11 that never happened to anyone. The ludicrousness of the child’s journey(he won’t get on an elevator or a bus or a subway for his wanderings through the boroughs…and maybe he has a form of autism…or maybe he doesn’t)short circuits this in its earliest scenes. Again the attempt is made to explain THAT away in the penultimate scene—it’s  still ludicrous. It’s so calculatingly ungainly—take that father/son goofy oxymoron contest! The phone book highlighting, the follow-up letters, the charts, the file-index…it all reeks of bad melodrama. There is barely a genuine moment or a real person in the two-plus hours. Some small bits have power because of what 9/11 was. Tom Hanks’ messages on an answering machine, for instance. Actual photos of falling bodies from the horrible day is another. But did we need a brief, imagined shot of Hanks’ character doing the same? Is there any catharsis in this attempt to wrap the September 11th tragedy into a neat, tidy, fictional little bow? Some may find this film offensive. Just label it silly. In fact it is extremely silly and incredibly dunderheaded. Damn…I almost made it.       Grade: D


3 comments on “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

  1. Well, I’m glad that you saw this first. Now I won’t have to watch it! It looked like the only purpose of this movie was to pull on your 911 heartstrings and not good storytelling. I’ll be keeping this off my must watch list.

  2. Looks like you took one for the team. Thanks for the warning. I thought there might be an outside chance of this being a worthwhile film, mainly due to the cast, but I can tell it didn’t work out. I might have to take a look at this someday, but there are plenty of other good things to watch right now. Thanks!

  3. It will, most likely, be my worst film of 2011. Sandra Bullock is cornering that market between this and the atrocious “The Blind Side” in 2009. Admittedly, she didn’t have as much to do here. ML

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