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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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