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.