When a story originates from a grievous political/social incident, it can either result in a deep investigation into the alternative perspectives associated with the given incident, or it can use that incident to emotionally appeal to the people affected by that calamity.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which deals with 9/11 and its impact on the life of a child, falls under the second category.
Compared to director Stephen Dadlry’s previous movie, The Reader, this one pales in comparison.
Oskar is an 11-year-old boy of extraordinary intelligence who had to complete various mental tasks that he calls expeditions, designed especially by his father, to save him from social interaction with others. T
he opening scene of the movie shows a man — later revealed to be Oskar’s father, Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks) — falling off The World Trade Center on 9/11. At his funeral, Oskar contemplates over the increasing number of dead humans over the large stretches of human history and the absurdity of having a funeral with an empty coffin.
The emotional trauma affects Oskar’s relationship with his mother Linda (Sandra Bullock). A year after 9/11, Oskar finds a mysterious key in his father’s closet and, considering it to be the last expedition left for him by his father, he resolves to solve this puzzle.
The story might sound intriguing but its cinematic adaptation is problematic. While watching the movie, you feel that it’s all a bit overdone and forced, especially the pathos. Employing a singular narrative point-of-view, the movie starts promisingly enough but soon turns into a watery melodrama incapable of appealing to audiences at any level.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close amply illustrates that a famous cast and a script based on a bestseller novel are not the quick recipe for a blockbuster film. This is not to lay the entire blame on screenplay writer Eric Roth, since the original novel itself was not devoid of these faults. Rather, Stephen Daldry and Eric Roth have managed to exacerbate what was already pretty much unbearable to begin with.The performances are also lack-lustre. The only actor who sine is Max von Sydow as the renter.
Ironically, the title of the movie gives the impression of a failed attempt at hyperbole which is borne out by the forced story-line and overacting.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, April 1st, 2012.