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Although Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock’s life-affirming 9/11 drama “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” came and went mostly unnoticed at the box office, the film did surprisingly well with critics, getting a lot of the deserved love from reviewers that it missed with moviegoers. Co-star Max von Sydow was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and the film itself landed a Best Picture nod from the Academy Awards. Find out what you missed because the film is currently available on Blu-ray Combo pack, DVD and for download from Warner Home Video.
Adapted from the acclaimed bestseller by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is a story that unfolds from inside the young mind of Oskar Schell, an inventive eleven year-old New Yorker whose discovery of a key in his deceased father’s belongings sets him off on an urgent search across the city for the lock it will open. A year after his father died in the World Trade Center on what Oskar calls “The Worst Day,” he is determined to keep his vital connection to the man who playfully cajoled him into confronting his wildest fears.
Now, as Oskar crosses the five New York boroughs in quest of the missing lock – encountering an eclectic assortment of people who are each survivors in their own way – he begins to uncover unseen links to the father he misses, to the mother who seems so far away from him and to the whole noisy, dangerous, discombobulating world around him.
Although “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” stars headliners like Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Max Von Sydow, it’s young newcomer Thomas Horn (playing Hanks and Bullocks’ son) that really shines. The fact that this is his first movie, and he’s never been in anything before this, is truly astounding, and props to director Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliot”) for taking such a huge gamble with the casting. In this case, the gamble paid off big time.
Horn plays Oskar, whose father (Hanks) dies during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Bullock co-stars as his mother, in a surprisingly nuanced, if low-key performance, a role that’s more complex than it first appears. But make no mistake, it’s young Mister Horn who carries the film as the searching Oskar. Looking to re-connect with his deceased father a year after the attacks, Oskar discovers a key in a closet with what looks like clues, and sets out to uncover its mysterious purpose. In doing so, he meets new acquaintances (including Max Von Sydow as a mute who becomes attached to the boy, eventually going along with his seemingly illogical quest) on his way to, ultimately, coming to terms with his tragedy and the lost of his father.
The point of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” (based on the 2005 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer) is probably not about where Oskar’s quest leads him, but what he finds among the people he meets along the way, including strong supporting turns by Van Sydow, Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright. The ending of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, ultimately, is bittersweet, but in the context of Oskar’s search (not what he really needed to find, but what he really needed to have), it works. While the Oscar nod to Van Sydow was deserved, I’m really surprised Horn didn’t get any recognition at all during Awards Season. What a let-down from the Hollywood elite not to recognize what the kid did here.
Your mileage with “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” will vary depending on how you have adjusted (or in some cases, not adjusted) to the 9/11 attacks. In many ways, though, this is a movie that would have worked so much better in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, and not 10 years later, where it’s a little bit harder to return to those terrifying and confusing early days. But it’s here now, and if you skipped it during its theatrical run, I recommend picking it up now. Better late than never.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES:
Finding Oskar – 8 Minutes
The journey to find a young actor who could take on the most important role of the film, Oskar Schell. We look at the demands Thomas Horn faced, and the challenges this first-time actor had to overcome as he became a Best Actor nominee. Told through interviews from cast and crew along with film and b-roll footage.
Making Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – 20 Minutes
Explore the artistic challenges of translating this material for the screen as interpreted through the casting, costumes, production design, and performances. Through interviews with Director Stephen Daldry, Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and the supporting cast and crew, we get to the heart of making the film.
Ten Years Later – 10 Minutes
With heartbreaking remembrances from Daniel McGinley’s friends and Tuesday’s Children volunteers, this will focus on the work done to foster community and hope in the aftermath of 9/11.
Max Von Sydow: Dialogues With The Renter – 43 Minutes
An insightful documentary by the son of Oscar® nominee Max von Sydow highlights his father’s compelling performance and friendship with his young costar.
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: