Sunday, January 01, 2012

prescient grief

Stephen Daldry's “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” a shrewdly-made polemic linked to 9/11, functions largely as a road movie about an uncommonly bright boy (Thomas Horn) who goes in search of - what?



Or could it be simply a desperate need to understand "the impenetrable"?

In this case, "the impenetrable" is the loss of his beloved father (Tom Hanks) on that fateful day in one of the Twin Towers.

Oskar Schell (Horn) goes on a journey of grief for which, in some curious way, he was prepared by his doting dad - but which his mother (Sandra Bullock) is simply too distraught to understand. A mystery key that Oskar finds in an envelope left behind by his father, an envelope with one word scrawled rather cryptically on it, ignites his search for, again, what?

The answer - or explanation or solution or clue - is hidden somewhere in New York and among its denizens. And so, Oskar starts his journey.

Daldry, who previously helmed "Billy Elliott," "The Hour" and "The Reader," balances the destructive energy of 9/11 with the lovely redemptive poetry of Oskar's restless, utterly important search.

This delicate balance is handily achieved by the young actor Horn who is completely complicit with his director and who, almost preternaturally, resembles both Hanks and Bullock, particularly Bullock.

"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" goes beyond the trauma of 9/11 to get to the heart of palpable, achingly personal grief.


Jamie said...

Just saw this film, with some reluctance, but I came to really admire it, largely because of the grace and suppleness that Daldry brought to the material.

This special alchemy that seems to be Daldry's alone these days keep this film from being irredeemably tasteful or irredeemably kitschy.

brian d. said...

This country is in a huge state of denial. I doubt if it will ever be ready for a 9/11 film, no matter how poetic and senitive the filmmaker is - just as we never got into Vietnam films. Years went by before a scant few were made - and even fewer are remembered today. Kimberly Peirce's "Stop-Loss" and Paul Greengrass's "United 93" are probably as good as 9/11 films get and foolish audiences stayed away.

Sheila said...

I find that Daldry's characters are very much in control of their emotions. Then gradually their vulnerability begins to seep through until they finally give in to their actual feelings. This is certainly truye of Oskar. The film wouldn’t have been effective any other way. And I suspect that that is probably Daldry's core view of humanity.

J.C. Shepherd said...

With qualifications, I admired this film and intend to see it again. Can't say I "enjoyed" it - I found the kid a bit difficult to take - but I like the subtle power that Daldry manages to conjur up.

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