Friday, 13 July 2012

Extremely loud and incredibly close

The second film that Warners sent me to review is the Tom Hanks 9/11 based drama 'Extremely loud and incredibly close'. Now I have to say, this presented me with two dilemmas - I'm so busy at the moment that I couldn't think of how I would get to watch this any time before October, and secondly I can't stand Tom Hanks. Sorry Tom, I'm sure you're a lovely person, and you are a good actor, but I can't think of a film of yours I actually like. So instead of the elation that should have accompanied the large box that arrived with the Triple Play (DVD, Blu-Ray and Digital), my heart sank. I must confess though the inclusion of Sandra Bullock raised my spirits somewhat.

Thank heavens for Lady Luck then. One of our very favourite family friends has just got himself a 2:1 in Media with Film and Television at Nottingham Trent University, so really was the ideal person to take a look. His considered and unadulterated opinion is:

"Hollywood’s attempts at tackling the topic of 9/11 have been understandably divisive from the viewpoint of both audience and critics. But when Paul Greengrass and Oliver Stone each tried to address the tragedy, what the pair’s respective films both had in abundance was respect towards the subject matter. And it is this which many question is present in the correct capacity in the case of Extreme Loud and Incredibly Close.

The story follows Oskar (Horn); a boy who loses his father (Hanks) in the World Trade Centre attacks and happens upon a mysterious key. He sets out on a journey to discover what it opens while struggling to connect with his similarly grieving mother (Bullock). The immediate question is would the film have been greatly affected had the boy’s father died in a road accident for example as opposed to 9/11? The answer is no, which does immediately provoke accusations that the film is using the tragedy to guarantee an emotional response from the audience.

Director Stephen Daldry knows from his experience on Billy Elliot how to stage a film around young boy struggling to bond with a parent so he seemed a safe pair of hands to bring Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel to the screen but sadly for audiences he fails to turn Oskar’s journey into an adventure; nothing happens for too much of the time and patience levels will be pushed. As they will be with Oskar himself, it’s frustratingly never specified if he is afflicted with Asperger’s so his radical behaviour will make him a difficult protagonist for many to really root for.

As for the cast, Tom Hanks does his best-dad-in-the-world routine to good effect and his presence is missed when not on screen. Meanwhile, Sandra Bullock continues to lend her talents to projects not deserving of her by accepting a hugely underwritten role. As for Oskar, the role in an enormously difficult one and sadly for all his efforts, newcomer Thomas Horn will inevitably irritate more than he endears which is down to the character as much as it is his performance. Ironically for a film with the word “loud” in the title it’s the mute Max Von Sydow who steals the show and he was rightfully awarded with an Academy Award nomination for his touching performance, and frankly it’s nice to have someone to really care about. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was an ambitious project from the outset and sadly the execution doesn’t match the ambition. It boasts moments of excellence but these are too few and far between throughout the overlong running time, but for those who can ignore the over sentimentality and unanswered questions, the ending is sure to tug hard on the heartstrings."

So it seems like a good choice for a rainy, cold summers afternoon when there's nothing else to do but laze in front of the TV screen with a hot cup of tea and a fruit bun.