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'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close'

A movie directed by Stephen Daldry

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A little too loud at times

  • Dec 29, 2011


Written by Eric Roth

Directed by Stephen Daldry

Starring Thomas Horn, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow and Tom Hanks


Making movies about the September 11 tragedies is unquestionably tricky. You don’t want to gloss over the facts and you definitely don’t want to exploit the pain but you also have to ensure that your movie is not so bleak and depressing that no one ends up seeing it. EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE, the latest film by Oscar nominee, Stephen Daldry (THE READER), does a pretty decent job of oscillating between the morose and the uplifting, without ever succumbing too much to either side, but it also never truly finds its voice as a result. 


The story itself, adapted from the well regarded novel of the same name by Jonathan Safran Foer, is a poignant one. Young, precocious, Thomas Schell (played by Teen Jeopardy winner, Thomas Horn, in his first film), loses his father (Tom Hanks) in the September 11 attacks. Naturally, this causes his already rampant anxiety to expand greatly. He no longer takes trains, fears tall buildings and carries a tambourine around with him at all times to help ease his mounting tension. All of this makes his quest to find the lock for a key he found amongst his father’s belongings particularly difficult. Before his father passed away, he would orchestrate mysterious puzzles for his son to solve and Thomas sees this key as a way to keep his father alive just a little bit longer. Not surprisingly, he pushes away his mother (a touching Sandra Bullock) in the process and subsequently befriends a stranger (Max von Sydow, in an incredibly telling turn considering the character is mute) in an effort to replace his absent father figure. Across the board, the acting is quite understated and very respectful to the horror that inspired this story. The way the events unfold though is at times too whimsical to be fully believed.


What I found most moving about EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE was how perfectly it captured that newfound sense of danger, apprehension and confusion that didn’t exist in Western society before the World Trade Center towers collapsed. At nine years old, Thomas cannot make sense of what happened on that day. Heck, most adults couldn’t make sense of it. And so, without being able to understand how his father was taken from him when planes flew into buildings, he now fears most everything instead. The beauty in the final journey Thomas finds himself on, is that it not only brings him closer to his father, but it also brings him closer to healing without his even realizing it. Maybe Daldry will have the same effect on you.

A little too loud at times A little too loud at times A little too loud at times

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December 30, 2011
I guess I will wait to see this one, great review once again.
December 30, 2011
Hmmm...I am still interested in seeing this one. Thanks for the review. I think you may have sealed the deal for me.
December 29, 2011
Have you read the book? It's incredibly moving so I hope the movie lives up to it. You bring up a lot of good points about movies centered around 9/11. Thanks for sharing!
More Extremely Loud and Incredibly ... reviews
review by . June 24, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****    For me, "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" is about as difficult to hate as it is to like or even love. The reviews seem quite divided over Stephen Daldry's adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's novel, with some calling it manipulative melodrama and others considering it effective and very moving. The Academy surely saw something special in the picture, as exemplified by their decision to nominate it for Best Picture at the 84th Academy Awards; although then …
review by . December 27, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close represents the best type of sentimentalism there is, in which the aim is not to make you cry but to actually tell a story that will resonate emotionally. It’s not a fairy tale, a fable, or a parable; it’s simply a film that works more on the heart than it does the brain. I don’t always appreciate narrative contrivances, but in this case, I have to admire Daldry and screenwriter …
review by . January 22, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) shares an incredibly close relationship with his father, Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks). Oskar is an extraordinary child who has some very particular social quirks. His list is rather extensive and it's revealed that he was once tested for Asperger's Syndrome. However, Thomas Schell spends a great amount of time with his son and does everything he can to help him overcome his fears. However, on September 11, 2001 as the world changes forever, tragically so does the …
review by . December 18, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Extremely Loud & Incredibly Loud' 'Two Jews On Film' Only One Is Moved By This Post 9/11 Drama
            By Joan Alperin Schwartz      9/11...All you have to do is say that date and most people will have a reaction...usually an emotional reaction...And for me, that emotion is one of saddness...for the senseless loss that so many people experienced.      And now, ten years after that infamous day, Stephen Daltry has directed a beautiful, moving film about...loss.       'Extremely …
Quick Tip by . May 10, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Saw this on my afternoon flight from Hong Kong to Singapore just last Thursday. I had often wondered how children who lost their parents during the Sep. 11 attack would react and cope with life after learning about their parents' demise. Unbeknownst to me at the time of watching, I had to deal with the unexpected death of a childhood friend that very night. The shock and subsequent reactions to the news is not something one who hasn't experienced will know what it's like. I'm …
Quick Tip by . January 22, 2012
Truly a lovely movie. Thomas Horn, the child who is in pretty much every scene, is a wonder, especially given the fact that he has never acted before. His face fills the screen for so much of the story, and he does an amazing job with the range of emotions he had to play. I was VERY happy to discover that the film was not made to me manipulatively weepy, as so many can be. I was also happy to see that there was almost no footage of 9/11 in the movie. The director uses the actors to express the gravitas, …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #24
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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