There is a movie theater by my house that my daughter and I like to attend, as it serves food while you watch the movie.  Today, I went to that theater to watch Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close. When I asked my waitress what she thought about the movie, she said “intense” and “in your face” and “pulls out emotions you’re not ready for.”   Boy, did she sum up the movie for me.  It was essentially an emotional experience.

The movie is based on a book of the same title by Jonathon Safran Foer, and tells the tale of nine-year-old Oskar Schnell (played by newcomer Thomas Horn).  The opening scene is a funeral, and Oskar’s mom (played by Sandra Bullock) is weeping and wearing black.    Oskar calls the funeral a “fake funeral” as there is no body in the casket.  I do not believe it is a spoiler to tell you that his father, Thomas (played by Tom Hanks) dies in the 9/11/2001 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Oskar and his father were close, and the movie follows young Oskar, who may suffer from Asbergers Syndrome or some other disorder on the Autism spectrum, in the aftermath of his loss. We are privy to his search for meaning after his father’s death and his desire to somehow remain connected to him.    Oskar finds a key in his father’s closet a year after his death, and his search for the key’s significance is the main premise of the movie.    The only clue to the key’s importance is found on the small manila envelope containing the key, which has the word “Black” written on its exterior.

We see plenty of flashbacks involving interaction between Oskar and his father.  This child is obviously stressed out in life.  He’s close to his paternal grandmother, and this was an interesting angle.  After her son’s death, she takes on a mysterious German boarder.

Thomas Horn carries the movie.  This is his first movie, so the feat is quite impressive indeed.  His only other claim to fame prior to Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close is that he won the game show “Jeopardy” during Kid’s Week.  Could Horn be the next Haley Joel Osment?  Perhaps, but I hope his career, if he chooses, lasts beyond adolescence.  Bullock and Hanks have relatively small but potent parts.  Max von Sydow plays the German and Viola Davis plays a pivotal character in Oskar’s search for meaning.  John Goodman plays Stan the Doorman.

Other critics trashed the movie.  The only real problem I had was, as a mother, envisioning allowing my 9 year old to roam one of the biggest cities in the world – New York City- on his own, meeting strangers who may or may not have his best interests at heart.  They tried to neatly address this issue, but it was not taken care of to my satisfaction, as even before his dad’s death, Oskar was allowed free range on other types of treasure/scavenger hunts.  That aspect did not feel genuine, and may have been written by someone who has no children.

I do recommend the movie.  It dealt with difficult and complex feelings through the eyes of a grieving nine-year-old child.  It wasn’t completely realistic to me, but it was engaging and moving nonetheless.

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