This movie...I'm not quite sure what about it made it so good. I'll save my summary for the end on this one but I'll preface the Pros & Cons with this: I have not read the book. I tried to listen to it on CD while driving once...I got car sick so I decided against further literary pursuits.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Directed By- Stephen Daldry
Written By- Eric Roth and based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer
Top Billed Cast- Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, & Sandra Bullock
This movie is about a young boy who lost his father in the attacks on 9/11. You are taken on a journey narrated by Oskar Schell, the boy who was "tested once for aspergers...it was inconclusive". Colorful imagery, painful memories, and heartwarming tales of kindness abound. This movie, though, is not a lighthearted walk through the park; it has moments of great pain and can be tough to watch.
* When a movie is going to be narrated, it should be done very carefully and start at the beginning. If there's one thing I hate, it's hearing a random's voice 10 minutes into the movie and having to wonder who on earth is talking and why. This movie did it right. While Thomas Horn's voice was woven in and out of the story from beginning to end, it was not done in such a way that annoyed or brought you out of the world that was created.
* The cinematography on this movie was awesome. Even though I can't see those shots-to-make-life-look-miniature without having CSI flashbacks...I still enjoyed the moments of reminiscence. The scale was done perfectly, the feeling of largeness or tightness perfectly mirrored in the shots.
* Movies with good sound are like the dark chocolate covered raisins of cinematic wonder. What? You don't like dark chocolate covered raisins? Then you probably didn't notice how perfect the score of this movie was anyway. It's my blog, I can make that leap. Sound. People take it for granted way too often. The powers that be on this film, however, did not and it was a thing of beauty. Trust me on this.
* Casting...it's an art. Honestly, I wasn't too sure about the casting on this movie. I had never heard of Thomas Horn and while I like both Hanks and Bullock, I wasn't sure how I would feel about them in a movie together. I knew from the moment the movie started, though, that Horn was made for this role. While I've not read the book (merely listened to about a page and a half), I still feel that his timing and delivery were spot on with the character. I believed him and that was very important for this movie.
* Speaking of Bullock. At first, I was not so sure what her role in this movie really was. The story revolves, mostly, around Oskar and his father's (Hanks') relationship which puts Bullock's character in the shadows for the first half of the movie. Once her character comes more into focus, though, wow. I enjoyed her performance very much and am really kind of confused as to why only one actor got an Oscar nomination out of this movie.
* I've read some people thought the movie moved slowly and I really have to disagree. I think I can see where they might have felt that but, to me, the pace was perfect. There were times I was really frustrated that there seemed to be no one on this kid's side and really just wanted him to have some help but, at the reveal (which I'll touch on next) it became extremely clear why this feeling of isolation for the character was necessary. We, as the audience, need to feel the same desperation that Oskar feels, the isolation is necessary for the coming together at the end.
* Ah, the reveal. That moment in a movie when everything makes sense. When all the actors and directors have been working towards, happens. Some movies have massive :O moments while others hint at the ending throughout. This movie didn't have an M. Night twist or anything, and yet, I felt the reveal almost as powerful. It was a pleasant surprise, not only in the way it was done but also in the information it gave us.
* The one actor that got nominated from this movie is the same actor that did not utter a single word the whole time he was on screen. Max von Sydow played "The Renter" and his portrayal of this beaten down, ashamed, man was brilliant. One does not have to speak aloud to say important things.
* I feel it's important to have at least three cons in every review.
* There was one...creative choice...that I disagreed with. I absolutely hate when a movie goes to a black screen before the movie is actually over. If that black screen lasts more than 2 seconds, it's too long. It draws me out of the movie and my little ADD brain can't take the switch. I've started thinking about all the previews I saw before the screen goes back to the movie and it just takes me too long to get back on track. I understood the purpose and can respect the decision..I just didn't like it.
* This last con is one that I can't even really talk about as it will spoil the movie. I'll just say this: I don't like loose ends and there was a rather large one in this movie. For something to be such an integral part of the story line, something repeated again and again, one would think that there would be resolution. Sure, one can assume that it was discussed and maybe, in some deleted scene, it was. But why was that scene deleted? Why take that part out of the film if it was indeed scripted to begin with?
This movie is rated PG-13 and talks about lots of heavy subjects such as: self-harming, terrorism, aspergers, & suicide. There is a fair sprinkling of language but the rating is mostly due to the emotional toll it will take on you. Viewer beware..
Overall, I loved this movie. I cried. I don't cry often in movies. It's a movie that is definitely heavy and not for everyone but, if you can make it to the reveal..it's so worth it. The performances in this movie mixed with the cinematography and direction just create this awesome package. I can't really even put my finger on why I liked the movie so much and I really can't understand why other critics did not. Perhaps if I read the book I would feel different? 4/5 stars.