Oskar Schell is a strange little boy. He's a bit of a loner whose best friend is his dad. Oskar (Horn) also has borderline Asperger's syndrome, so when his father dies in the attack on New York's World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, his world is turned inside out.
Based on the bestselling novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a powerful and moving drama about how this boy deals with the loss of his father. A few months after Thomas (Hanks) dies, Oskar finds an envelope in a blue vase among his fathers belongings. Inside is an envelope with the word Black written on it, and inside the envelope is a key. Oskar sets out to search the city for the lock that the key opens, dedicating every Saturday to his search. He assumes that Black is a surname, so he estimates that it will take him rouchly three years to interview every person named Black in New York.
The film has come in for a fair old hammering from most of the critics, but I'm sticking my neck out here and going against the trend. I liked it. A lot. I also liked the book when I read it a few years ago. There occasionally comes along a film that can be interpreted in many different ways, and this is one of those films. For me (and it was the same with the book) the film is simply a metaphor for the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on New York. Oskar is the United States, trying to come to terms with the loss and deal with his grief; his father, Thomas, represents everyone who died in the collapse of the towers; and mother Linda is the rest of the world, trying to understand and sympathise. The other thing I took away was that everything that happens in the film is seen from Oskar's point of view, so sometimes people's reactions are a bit hard to understand. But then, a lot of things are hard to understand when seen throuh a child's eyes – especially a child that has gone through such trauma.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is not a perfect film, but it's a terrific adaptation of the book, and it has a lot to say about love, loss, grief, family and moving on after a tragedy.