Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Movie Review

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is the story Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), a young American boy who lost his father Thomas (Tom Hanks) in the 9/11 attacks. Trying to cope with the passing of his father, Oskar, who happens to be a very inquisitive boy, tries to make sense of the world. Feeling disconnected with his mother Linda (Sandra Bullock), Oskar sets on a quest across New York City to find one last clue that his father might have left him in a blue vase, which he finds among a stach of things he collected of his father, including his father’s last phone messages on an answering machine he never shared with his mother. The last “hint” is one involving a key and the last name Black, to which he will spring up one last quest involving 472 people with the last name Black in NYC, hoping he’d find the lock which fit the key.

As the movie opens, Oskar, who’s implied to have Asperger’s, says: “If the sun were to blow up, we would still have light and warmth for eight minutes; I feel like my eight minutes with my father are running out.” Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is Oskar’s quest to cling to those eight minutes as long as he could.

Many have called this movie trite and over-indulgent. I disagree. My main problem with Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was not the subject matter, which you cannot but appreciate, but it was that the main character, Oskar, is more often than not grating, making it difficult for many to relate to his struggles especially when at a moment he snaps at his mother, telling her he wishes it was her in that tower instead, simply because she couldn’t explain why his father had died. It might be how the character was written but Oskar isn’t likeable at most of the movie’s run. There are moments, though, when he’s at his most vulnerable that his child-self shines through. It is then that you appreciate the performance by Thomas Horn, who does a good job, despite his character’s flaws.

Sandra Bullock is great and saddening as the mother trying to protect her son while receiving his bashing for things out of her control. She provides much realism to the movie. Tom Hanks, in the little screen time he gets, embodies the role of the caring dad trying to break his son out of his shell and into the world through little quests in search of ordinary things sparsed throughout New York City, requiring his son to interact with people.

While on his quest, Oskar will cross paths with an old mute man renting at his grandmother’s place. This old man (Max Von Sydow), whose name is never revealed, will help Oskar on his quest by helping him rise above his fear of ordinary things such as trains and shabby-looking bridges. In doing so, Max Von Sydow gives a great performance without uttering a single word.

In a way, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is not really about 9/11 as it is about coping with death. It focuses less on the American tragedy of a country and more on the tragedy of the Schell family. Its main shortcoming is in the fact that with trying to aim for universality, it comes off short from hitting the mark within its niche. Some of the movie’s sequences seem forced. Some are even out of context and irrelevant to the overall flow. In a way the whole sequence with the old man could be removed without affecting the storyline one bit. The movie is not seamless. It feels rickety at points. And that’s a shame because it could have been so much more.



31 thoughts on “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close – Movie Review

  1. The movie makes you think that… Makes you think that this is some random guy renting next to his grandmother… But a couple of clues… (It’s going to run the movie for those that haven’t watched it!)

    1) His Grandmother says to never approach or talk to him
    2) He tells Oskar to never mention to his grandmother that they spoke.

    Then as the movie goes on, and even Oskar says it, how the resemblence to his father is, and how he shrug’s his shoulders just like his father, and then how emotional he gets when he’s listening to the messages… Then at the end when the name on the envelope appears, it just glues it all in place and confirms who that person really is – I love the part at the end when he’s waiting in the apartment and the grandmother walks past him, stops, puts the shopping bag down, and then keeps walking as if to tell him pick it up and come…

    Overall, it was a really good movie… and very emotional… when the lights came on, there was not a single person who didn’t have wet eyes from crying!


    • Haha you’re excused. Actually, Oskar says he’s his grandfather. I knew what the relation was, I didn’t know that Oskar’s father is Thomas Schell Jr.
      I can see why many would find the movie emotional. It is an emotional movie. I know a friend who texted me that she was weeping while watching, which got me to continue it (I had started a day before but couldn’t get past the first hour). So I continued watching it and the kid still felt grating and annoyed the hell out of me. Especially when he spoke to his mom like that.
      I’ve watched other movies where families deal with loss (Fireflies in the Garden is an example that just popped into my head) and I was able to relate to them more.

      This movie, based on the response I’ve seen for it, has been very polarizing. You have those who couldn’t get enough of it and you have those who would have changed the title to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Annoying. I am not of either group. I’m in between – I appreciate the whole premise. But the execution felt lacking. Sometimes it happens when the main character rubs you the wrong way.


      • Agree with the movie… I was sceptical at first, but it turned out to be OK – I agree with the 6/10 rating you gave it…

        I still have a couple of hours before I go to bed… I get to do most of my work at this time, my clients don’t get disrupted when I make changes to their systems 🙂

        Will do – Say hi to all in Lebanon for me – and Go Lebanon – This could be their time to make the World Cup!


        • Have you seen the group Lebanon got sorted in? There’s no way we’re getting out of that in one piece.
          And if we do, be sure there’s one piece of mighty divine intervention behind it.

          Good luck in your job 😀 I should have asked you about self-hosting if I had any clue it was your area of expertise 😛


          • Yeah… They’ll manage – Most of the teams are ranked close by except South Korea, although we’ve beaten them once before… See my FB post for the Round 4 Draw & Team Rankings.

            No problem… yell out if you need a hand with anything IT Related 🙂


                    • And done. Both from my personal account and from my blog’s page. Keep up the good work 😀 And I will hit you up if I have any IT related question. Actually, I do have one now. I have a Mac and an iPhone, which are both virus free, and my uni has blocked internet access on both my devices because they’ve detected SQL injections from my IP.
                      Now i have no idea how to inject anything, let alone what an SQL injection is (I was told it’s something virus-related) but how it be if I have perfectly healthy devices? Could someone be spoofing the IPs or something?


                    • SQL Injections from your IP? Interesting…
                      SQL Injections are SQL Commands that are sometimes entered as part of the URL in an attempt to overflow a website – hack through it etc…
                      Do you have an app on your iPhone / Mac that accesses websites that may possibly send out SQL Commands as well?


                    • I don’t think so. Uni has lots of websites blocked. Some parts of my blog are blocked as well (especially if the word sex has been mentioned in the post).
                      Regarding apps, I don’t think so as well. Unless a download manager can do so (Folx). Could it be the OTA software update for my iPhone’s iOS? But that wouldn’t explain my Mac.
                      The IT dept agreed that it was unlikely my mac had a virus but they still haven’t restored connectivity because they want to run tests.


                    • Unlikely to be the download manager or the OTA – Web Content Filtering will pick up the word Sex and other words / categories that are blocked – We implement that and sell that feature to our clients when we sell them firewalls for their environment…

                      They don’t really need to block your devices… They need to develop the affected websites better – SQL Injection attacks are so last century…


                    • They need to get their sh*t together, that’s for sure. I’m not the only one with whom they’re facing problems. And I’m not the only one in class with a Mac or an iPhone.
                      They said they’re working on it. But as it goes with Lebanese work, you know it will be a long time before something gets back.


                    • It’s an excuse if you ask me… If they develop their web apps properly, they’ll have nothing to worry about when it comes to SQL Injections – Have a look at that Wikipedia Article I posted – Tells you exactly what a SQL Injection is – I highly doubt you’ll have an application that’s trying to do that…


                    • I read the introduction and some of the examples. Everything in between was way out of my league. Not my specialty I’m afraid. And it does seem like a rudimentary hacking approach.
                      Again, some of the IT department didn’t know what a blog was when they asked me what websites I usually access using their internet. And yeah, I hardly think OTA update or whatsapp or even the download manager would do that. There’s something wrong with their internet.


                    • It’ll be more any website applications the Uni is running – That’s what the SQL Injections would be targeting – such as dumping the database of users or info from the apps – This is where HTTP Post instead of HTTP GET is better used when you have forms because the variables of the form are hidden from the URL!


                    • They can block the whole uni – but I can walk in with a laptop and run a SQL Injection attack – They’ll eventually end up blocking the whole country… Maybe we should implement LIRA and block the university? 🙂


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