Within approximately 11 years since that horrifying day in New York on 11th September 2001, there has been a whole new born legacy of stories (both fictional and real) that have been adapted onto the big screen. Following 2006 hits United 93 and World Trade Center that were based on true stories, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close became the first Hollywood film that links the real attacks with a fictional second story and characters. So, with this in mind, there was quite a lot to expect from this film on equal fronts. Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close undoubtedly illustrates the horror of 9/11 and the heartbreak caused, but regarding the key-quest story, it came across as rather flat that doesn’t really get anywhere.
The dialogue of Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close is split into two separate stories that intend to connect together but, quite frankly, it was almost completely mishandled. It’s adapting a horrifying and controversial event featuring fictional characters, in slight reference to James Cameron’s Titanic, to create an inner fictional story that doesn’t really lead us anywhere nor serve any primary purpose. Despite the key-quest story wasn’t the best, the fictional Schell family were vital roles as it illustrates the emotional heartbreak that 9/11 bestowed on the victims and their loved ones. It shows some vital characteristics of 9/11 that hadn’t been put to the screen, which is where in particularly aspect that the film could lead its audience to a tear or two.
Throughout pretty much every Tom Hanks film, it’s just always about him and his character. However, this time in Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, he is credited as a leading role but he portrays a more supporting character. Nevertheless, he portrays 9/11 victim Thomas Schell marvellously. He illustrates not only the loving father and husband in the film that adds more drama, but also the emotional torture and pain whilst in the World Trade Center building. Alongside Hanks is Oscar winning actress Sandra Bullock as wife of Thomas and mother of Oskar, Linda Schell. Being an actress you either love or hate, Bullock provides a very tender yet rather cold nature to Linda, especially when it comes to the relationship with her son. So, Bullock’s performance was decent enough to watch.
Child star Thomas Horn makes his on-screen feature debut as young Oskar Schell with quite possibly one of the best child performances that you’ll ever experience. As well as the references of 9/11 itself and the aftermath, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close teaches some valuable lessons about autism and Asperger’s Syndrome from Horn’s performance. He brings forth the reality, the mental stabilities and symptoms of autism like Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? where he became not only the main character in the film, but the most dominant actor alongside Max Von Sydow! Von Sydow got a well-deserved Academy Award nomination where he proves without saying a single word in the film that actions speak louder than words, identical to a few Oscar winning and nominated performances in the past. Viola Davis, John Goodman, Jeffrey Wright and Zoe Caldwell make appearances and deliver satisfying performances in their respective roles.
Stephen Daldry warmed our hearts with his directorial debut of Billy Elliot but then progressed to make Oscar nominated dramas - The Hours and The Reader. Nevertheless, here we are with Daldry’s latest drama, where he doesn’t do so much better than his previous two films. He tends to make these dramas and lacks the emotional connection between the key-quest and 9/11 story. Daldry can do better than this, but he can do a lot worse! Eric Roth, the screenwriter of most notably Forrest Gump and The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, penned the screenplay from the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. This is a typical film for Eli Roth to write a script because it’s embarking on a journey and observes life from another group of people. Plus, it’s the on-going narration and the crucial reference of the swing in central New York, identical to the feather in Forrest Gump. However, it’s not one of the best scripts he has written at all but like Daldry, he can so much worse!
Overall, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close is both a huge disappointment but a very emotional and heartfelt film to watch. As previously illustrated, it’s flat in terms of story with the quest about the key. However, at the same time, the 9/11 scenarios with losing a father/husband makes it a heart-breaking tragedy, which still makes it an emotional experience. So, Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close is the one film that has its strong features which prevented it from becoming even worse, but also has its severe blows where it could have been so much better.