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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Oskar (Thomas Horn) lives comfortably with his mother Linda Schell (Sandra Bullock) and dad, Thomas (Tom Hanks), in a upper Manhattan apartment. His grandmother (Zoe Caldwell) lives in the building next door, but Oskar and she can see one another.
 
Oskar is sent home from school on September 11, 2001 but doesn’t know why. He is about to eat a snack when the phone rings. He lets it go to message and realizes it is his dad. He doesn’t answer any of the calls and that night sneaks out to buy a new answering machine and hides the old one. For a 10 year-old kid, Oskar is brilliant and resourceful. And, as he tells us in the extensive voice-over narration in the film, he is probably somewhere on the Asperger’s spectrum but the results were undetermined.
 
A year later Oskar finds a key in a envelope hidden in a blue vase on a shelf in his father’s closet. He then starts on a journey of discovery and vows to never stop searching for the answer. After all, his dad always had him searching for Manhattan’s sixth borough and Oskar was always looking for clues.
 
For some,  “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, based on the 2005 novel by Jonathan S. Foer, and directed by Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliott”, “The Hours”, “The Reader”), may seem too talkative, too noisy. Oskar is never silent, his hands always busy, and he is always afraid and anxious. He is also heartbroken and lonely.
 
In that brief scene when he enters his father’s closet that his mother has never touched since 9/11, he pulls a jacket or a tie to his face, to take in his father’s scent. I never felt the loss of 9/11 so keenly as in that moment.
 
The film creeps along with Oskar; we are his invisible companions but he knows we are there. The filmmakers are to be commended for letting us in to the inner life of Oskar in credible ways.
 
Oskar makes many discoveries on his mathematically precise journey, and the past emerges to comfort him. He is also surprised by love, and this is what the movie, at its heart, is all about. And if it is about love, it is about hope and faith.
 
I loved it, as hard as it was to experience September 11 through the eyes and life of this child who feels everything so intensely.


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Anthony Grassi: Anthony’s father died when his son was only 10 years old, but the young lad inherited his father’s devotion to Our Lady of Loreto. As a schoolboy he frequented the local church of the Oratorian Fathers, joining the religious order when he was 17.
<p>Already a fine student, he soon gained a reputation in his religious community as a "walking dictionary" who quickly grasped Scripture and theology. For some time he was tormented by scruples, but they reportedly left him at the very hour he celebrated his first Mass. From that day, serenity penetrated his very being.
</p><p>In 1621, at age 29, Anthony was struck by lightning while praying in the church of the Holy House at Loreto. He was carried paralyzed from the church, expecting to die. When he recovered in a few days he realized that he had been cured of acute indigestion. His scorched clothes were donated to the Loreto church as an offering of thanks for his new gift of life.
</p><p>More important, Anthony now felt that his life belonged entirely to God. Each year thereafter he made a pilgrimage to Loreto to express his thanks.
</p><p>He also began hearing confessions, and came to be regarded as an outstanding confessor. Simple and direct, he listened carefully to penitents, said a few words and gave a penance and absolution, frequently drawing on his gift of reading consciences.
</p><p>In 1635 he was elected superior of the Fermo Oratory. He was so well regarded that he was reelected every three years until his death. He was a quiet person and a gentle superior who did not know how to be severe. At the same time he kept the Oratorian constitutions literally, encouraging the community to do likewise.
</p><p>He refused social or civic commitments and instead would go out day or night to visit the sick or dying or anyone else needing his services. As he grew older, he had a God-given awareness of the future, a gift which he frequently used to warn or to console.
</p><p>But age brought its challenges as well. He suffered the humility of having to give up his physical faculties one by one. First was his preaching, necessitated after he lost his teeth. Then he could no longer hear confessions. Finally, after a fall, he was confined to his room. The archbishop himself came each day to give him holy Communion. One of Anthony’s final acts was to reconcile two fiercely quarreling brothers.</p> American Catholic Blog God of love, as I come to the end of this Advent season, my heart is ready to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I join with Mary in saying, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Nothing is impossible with you, O God.

 
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