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Film Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


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If a film deals with a powerful, emotive or disturbing subject it does not, by definition, mean that the film will be any good. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close deals with the September 11th attacks and the grief of a young boy who lost his father on that day. But can it rise above its subject matter and stand on its own?

Directed by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot and The Reader), the film sees nine-year-old Oskar (Thomas Hochortles21rn) search the whole of New York for the lock to a key which his father left behind after he died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.

It would be nice to say that the result is a moving and emotionally-deep movie but that would be like saying a hangover is an enjoyable experience: simply not true.

Firstly, it is half-an-hour too long (at just under two hours, ten minutes) and lurches along at a pace which would rival your grandma's mobility scooter. It is also unashamedly emotionally-manipulative and throws sentiment at the audience like it's going out of fashion. There's nothing wrong with a bit of schmaltz and emotion but when it's done with as much tact and diplomacy as a visit to China by Prince Philip, it becomes grating and annoying. 

With a strong cast featuring a powerful Sandra Bullock as Oskar's mo  ther and Tom Hanks as his father, Horn is allowed to shine in a way which many actors his age rarely are.

Although his character did get mildly-annoying, Horn really did prove to be a convincing screen-presence. Viola Davis (The Help) however, stole the film, despite only being on-screen for around fifteen minutes. Her superb perfromance is a joy to watch and puts many more well-know actors to shame.

The film's cinematography was very striking and crisp, with a perfect balance between Oskar's claustrophobic, isolated feelings and the scale of the city.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is neither a masterpiece nor a failure. It clearly knows what it wants to be but, ultimately, becomes too wound-up with sentiment to become an engaging and dynamic piece of work. The film is not damaged by its dealing with one of the worst terrorist attacks in history but its attempt at addressing the issue does not give it any special merit or make the film any more effective. Mr Daldry – it's not enough to hide behind powerful subject matter. Sorry.

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