My mother recently said that there has yet to be a strong movie made about 9/11. Not only is it a difficult subject to approach, there is the question of perspective. By this I mean should the movie be more political or personal? Should the movie try to represent many people, many families, or just one person? In the case of “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” the film is about the latter viewpoint.
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” received mixed reviews from critics, mainly negative. The fact that it made it onto the roster of Best Picture nominees for the Oscars is a surprise. The film overall is far from perfect.
A young boy named Oskar struggles with the tragic loss of his father, who was in the Twin Towers on what he calls “the worst day.” He tries to overcome his fears in a world that makes no sense by creating a puzzle that he believes will give him some more time with his father. Along the way Oskar meets many people and finds that even when we would wish for nothing more than to be alone, we simply cannot be on life’s journey.
Max von Sydow, nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, does an excellent job as a mysterious stranger who has a story about his past that he would like to keep hidden. Thomas Horn is lovely as the lead.
Perhaps the biggest problem with “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is that it is a bit heavy-handed. Its emotional cloud permeates every frame and there is never a let-up. The story of a missing grandfather adds to the heaviness. Maybe it is a subtle touch that is needed in discussing a time so filled with darkness.