Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The film they are calling the worst ever to be nominated for a Best Film Oscar, this totters into cinemas like a Charles Haughtrey Atlas, staggering under the great ball of opprobrium and abuse that has been cheerfully heaped upon it.

And it is a bad film; it's just not the bad film you expect it to be.

Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock in an Oscar Pleader about a boy with Asperser's trying to come to terms with his father's death on 9/11: I think we all know that film and we all know the approximate size of sick bucket needed to get through it.

This though is something far more mundane; the awkward literary adaptation.

It's an ill-conceived and rather dull film, but bold and honourable in its way.

Nowadays, when everybody from New Sherlock to a bloke who knows every post-war Cup Final winner is reckoned to be 'a bit Asperser's', the idea that tests for the condition on young Oskar (Thomas Horn) proved inconclusive seems ridiculous.

In movie terms he's borderline Rain Man, or at least whatever Jack Nicholson was in As Good As It Gets (there you go – proof this is not the worst best film Oscar nomination ever.)

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Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are actually both very good but their roles are little more than cameos. A silent Von Sydow, resembling a derelict Stan Laurel, gets some extended screen time but really the kid is the whole film.

Horn shows considerable talent but Oskar is a difficult and abrasive figure to have at the centre of a film and coupled with the Fisher King-style quest he sets himself – searching New York to find the lock that fits a key he finds in his father's possessions – it makes for an uninvolving proposition.

The film is full of ideas and conceits that you can imagine working well on the pages of Jonathon Safran Foer's second novel but seem forced or trite on the screen. His first novel Everything Is Illuminated was dazzling but his experiments with language and type font can come across as flippant, particularly in a novel about the Holocaust.

You can see why this novel wasn't so well received. 9/11 is still an event more news than historical and audiences probably want it dealt with directly not tangentially.

Viewing its senselessness through the perception of someone who demands logical explanation for everything has obvious possibilities but Oskar's quest seems irrelevant and insufficient. Probably the film's problem is that it captures the book too well.


Director: Stephen Daldry

Starring: Thomas Horn, Max Von Sydow, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright

Length: 130 mins