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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Tom Hanks
Thomas Horn
Sandra Bullock
Zoe Caldwell
Max Von Sydow
John Goodman
Viola Davis
Jeffrey Wright.
Directors
Stephen Daldry.
Screenwriters
Eric Roth.
Running Time
129 minutes

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Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
Too soon? Or too late?


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Plot
Post 9/11 and following the death of his father (Hanks) in the Twin Towers, a grieving boy (Horn) finds a mysterious key among his father’s things and undertakes an odyssey around New York’s five boroughs in search of what it will unlock, meeting a cross-section of New Yorkers with their own sorrows.


Review
Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
Before anyone had seen a frame of Stephen Daldry’s tenth anniversary contemplation of loss and catharsis — the emotional aftermath of 9/11 through a child’s perceptions — Oscarologists were predicting Best things for a heavy-hitting, deliberate drama, adapted by Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) from the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer. This may teach industry pundits not to get ahead of themselves. What it wins is Most Polarising Film. Some will embrace this as an extraordinary, universal journey through grief to reconciliation with loss. Others will just as surely find it heavy-handed, manipulative and too weepily whimsical.

A film with its weight on a child’s shoulders is asking for trouble since one either warms to the child or not. Thomas Horn’s nine year-old Oskar Schell is not an average all-American boy, but a gifted and afflicted one. He may have Asperger’s Syndrome, we don’t know. (It is one of many things we don’t know, back stories and answers being in short supply.) He has a mind for puzzles and maths problems. He is socially inept. He has panic attacks triggered by everyday sounds and events. He rattles a tambourine when he becomes anxious. He wishes his mother (Sandra Bullock) was the parent who had died that day, and tells her so. For most of the film she does indeed seem clueless about parenting Oskar, although she oozes loving concern, while Tom Hanks in flashbacks is the best dad on Earth.

Given that Manhattanites seem to enter therapy or go on a talk show if they have a hangnail, it seems incredible that a child with deeply apparent pre-9/11 problems, whose post-9/11 distress is exacerbated by answering-machine messages from dad that Oskar guiltily replays — understandably making him even more psychologically damaged — is not seeing a therapist or grief counsellor. Okay, it’s a parable, but if the defining event of the story is one so traumatic — and one multitudes watching will think of as their story, too — some degree of credibility would be nice. It is the supporting cast that saves the day: magnificent Max von Sydow, and Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright in important cameos focus one’s sympathies wonderfully. What you have to ask yourself is whether you are ready for Tom Hanks tumbling beautifully in slo-mo from one of the Towers like a falling angel.


Verdict
It’s just too tempting to dismiss it as extremely long and incredibly disappointing. It’s challenging, divisive and has moments of beauty but leaves you cold.


Reviewed by Angie Errigo

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close
Empire Star Rating

Extremely underrated

Largely met with disdain by the critical bodies upon its release, this is nevertheless an enormously powerful and affecting analysis of post-911 grief, deftly managed by Daldry. Up front is young Horn in the demanding part of a (maybe) Asperger’s kid who is having real trouble coming to terms with the loss of his father in the World Trade Center. The character is intense and annoying but also fascinating. The attempts of his stricken mother to help him fall on deaf ears especially when a m... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RJNeb2 at 00:10, 14 August 2014 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

As soon as Hanks left the film & we were left with shouty boy the film went into freefall. Fuck knows what Bullock was doing in this her role was little more than nothing. Also unsurprisingly i've heard the kid's not even a proper Actor was spotted on some televised quiz event. ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 10:15, 28 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE:

As much as 5 out of 10, TG? Generous. ... More

Posted by homersimpson_esq at 18:46, 27 February 2012 | Report This Post


The story of an lyng boy who lost his dad (Tom Hanks) in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. What follows is two hours worth of screaming, crying and boring search that isn`t interesting in the least bit. How in God`s name this was ever nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, I`ll never ] know. Extremely Long & Incredibly Boring.... /b] ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 23:17, 23 February 2012 | Report This Post


RE: WTFF???

Agree with the review completely. You either love Oskar or you hate him. I fucking hated him. Mainly the actor though. ... More

Posted by Evil_Bob at 20:21, 22 February 2012 | Report This Post


WTFF???

How can you give this film a mere 2 stars? The film is captivating dealing with the sense of loss. It is much better than what any of these reviews suggest. 9/11 is a backdrop tothe film, it doesn't evolve around it. Poor taste. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mckendry158 at 09:54, 21 February 2012 | Report This Post


Better than this review

Really good movie, 2 stars ? Are you morons ? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bereski at 21:59, 20 February 2012 | Report This Post


FLASHMAN

I appreciate the review and make no suggestion to either knowing the director's intention or being smart, but two points might encourage future re-assessment. 1) This is a fresh, interesting attempt to address the tragedy of 9/11; a subject that, frankly, has been talked to exhaustion, and offers much to consider in a brave way. 2) Daldry's work always has a deliberately intellectual, esoteric, detached tone; in other words, I could be wrong, but he had no... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Frank Comiskey at 10:40, 20 February 2012 | Report This Post


FLASHMAN

I appreciate the review and make no suggestion to either knowing the director's intention or being smart, but two points might encourage future re-assessment. 1) This is a fresh, interesting attempt to address the tragedy of 9/11; a subject that, frankly, has been talked to exhaustion, and offers much to consider in a brave way. 2) Daldry's work always has a deliberately intellectual, esoteric, detached tone; in other words, I could be wrong, but he had no... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Frank Comiskey at 10:40, 20 February 2012 | Report This Post


Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Review

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a story worth telling, but it deserves better than the treacly and pretentious treatment director Stephen Daldry gives it. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 22:19, 18 February 2012 | Report This Post


err

this film is so mawkish, i left the cinema with diabetes. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 21:16, 18 February 2012 | Report This Post


Extremely Loud And Incredibly Boring...

Honestly I wrote some words about how bad this movie is on you academy awards nominations. Really cheap, poorly written characters with okay performances. Honestly my mother wouldn't let me out alone before I was 15 unless I was with friends let alone, alone in NYC. And this supposed to be touching? The kid was alright but the character was not. Really really poor. I believe it would touch the americans more. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by smakris04 at 22:24, 13 February 2012 | Report This Post


brillient

forget what the critics say it is much better ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jordan thomas at 19:52, 13 February 2012 | Report This Post


SPOILER ALERTS!

Well i'm a fan of Sandra and the premise of the film certainly sounds interesting. However the final line of the review is a spoiler, so some warning would have been nice!! As for the 2 stars, hmmm... it appears to warrant more than that from what you've said, although it's clearly a divisive topic - as was the eending to Remember Me (starring R-Patz!). A love it or hate it film then... i'm there! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by losthighway at 17:49, 13 February 2012 | Report This Post


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