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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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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog When we suffer, we don’t just come to understand the pain of Christ’s cross more, we come to understand the depth of God’s love for us: that he would endure such pain for us—in our place. We have a God who endured death so we would never have to do so.

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