Movie Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

September 11th, 2001 has proven to be a challenging day to capture on film. Of course, the video footage from that day is still shocking and immensely saddening over ten years later. However, Hollywood has proven inept at successfully depicting the most devastating attack on American soil in the history of our country. Although films such as World Trade Center and United 93 were moving in their own right, there has yet to be a definitive film on the subject of 9/11. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the new film by Stephen Daldry, bravely attempts to become that defining statement.

Unfortunately, the film doesn’t live up to its source material, a novel by Jonathan Safran Foer of the same name. Safran Foer’s novel was a landmark in modern American literature which succeeded in both its literary innovation and extraordinarily touching portrayal of a young boy who loses his father in the 9/11 attacks. While the film adaptation retains the book’s emotional impact, it fails to captures Safran Foer’s original writing style. Although certain scenes leap off the screen, Daldry’s directorial style is ultimately too conventional for a film that should have been anything but.

That being said, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close features a bevy of extraordinary performances, somewhat redeeming the film’s lackluster direction. Newcomer Thomas Horn delivers a truly astounding performance as Oskar Schell, the film’s protagonist. Horn’s emotional depth is shocking, especially considering the film’s producers discovered him on the kids’ version of the popular quiz show “Jeopardy.” In addition, Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock deftly capture the spirit of parenthood, the tenderness of love, and the unbearable sadness of losing a loved one in turn as Oskar’s parents. However, although Horn, Hanks, and Bullock are sure to get most of the acclaim for their roles, Max von Sydow’s incredible turn as “The Renter” is perhaps the best in the film, especially considering that he doesn’t speak a word of dialogue for the duration of the movie.

While the sublime performances ultimately make the film worth seeing, there’s a sense that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will not come to define September 11th in film lore. Although I do believe that film is the highest of art-forms, there are some nuances of the written word which cannot be translated to the screen. And although the film makes a valiant effort, it still feels slight in comparison to the novel.  Perhaps if Daldry and Co. had been as innovative and daring as Jonathon Safran Foer during the production of the film, they would be looking at a classic. Unfortunately, what we’re left with is yet another middling adaptation of a tremendous work.

-Ben Klein, Editor in Chief 

Posted by on January 23, 2012. Filed under Arts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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