Blu-ray Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
A remarkably moving and heartfelt film is presented in a release that boasts the immense power of high definition.
rating: 4With the recent 10th Anniversary of the tragic attack on the Twin Towers, delve into the emotional and highly absorbing tale of one boy's efforts to cope with the loss of his father. Available now on Triple Play Blu-ray and DVD, our review of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close follows... Adapted from the acclaimed bestseller by Johnathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a story that unfolds inside the mind of Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), an inventive eleven-year-old New Yorker whose discovery of a key in the belongings of his father, who died in the World Trade Centre on 9/11, sets him off on an urgent search for the lock it opens. As Oskar's quest takes him across the city, he encounters an eclectic assortment of people survivors in their own way who help uncover links to his father, preserving a connection to the man who helped Oskar confront his fears about the noisy, nonsensical and often dangerous world around him... Stephen Daldry's emotional drama is certainly one of the most accomplished adaptations of a novel to come out of Hollywood recently. The deep narrative that forms the original novel has been translated extremely well to the big screen, with enough sentiment and heart to make even the burliest of grown men feel just a little bit touched! Daldry employs elements of various genres to engulf audiences in the world of protagonist Oskar. Moments of suspense and mystery blend with surges of melodrama, whilst elements of off beat humour permeate throughout and offer some much appreciated comedy in the heaviest of moments. The film is driven by Oskar's incessant hunt for a lock that a key he has discovered in his father's possessions opens, but ultimately audiences will find this to be a McGuffin that even Hitchcock would be proud of (in fact viewers won't even be concerned that whatever the key locked away is never revealed)! Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is essentially about relationships and through his journey across New York, Oskar finds that interaction with others helps the pain of losing his father ease significantly. Grief is often described as a journey and the narrative here helps demonstrate this, exploring how new relationships can help keep old ones alive. According to the narrative here, human interaction, kindness to others and lending an ear to those in need of one, is our salvation. Daldry helps heighten this philosophical sense by giving the film a rather lyrical feel in his direction. Scenes flow exceptionally well, with moments of deliberate jarring (achieved predominantly through sound editing) to exhibit Oskar's fear of loud noises. Viewers will undoubtedly find it impossible not to come away with a sense of warmth and hope after viewing this film: a realisation that life can go on after even the most unsettling of tragedies. As Oskar Schell, Thomas Horn gives what must be the most outstanding and memorable debut performance on film since Mary Badham's Academy Award nominated turn in the perennially acclaimed To Kill a Mockingbird in 1962. Horn was 'discovered' on an episode of US game show Jeopardy and was encouraged to audition for the role of Oskar. Having never acted before, Horn's casting was an enormous gamble. However, he gives what must be one of the most complex, heart-warming and multi-dimensional performances a young performer has ever achieved all without any formal training! Oskar is a heavily layered character with enormous depth and breadth. Horn manages to tackle the emotional aspects required, proficiently exhibiting the earth-shattering sense of loss and feeling of pain after his beloved father is killed. Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock give raw performances as Oskar's parents, Thomas and Linda, helping build a rich picture of a family that appears idyllic but ultimately remains painfully human. Hanks is warm and kind in his performance, evoking an image of the perfect father (something that undoubtedly is heightened through the fact that the narrative plays out through Oskar's mind/memory). Bullock has a harder time as the parent who Oskar is less close to, leading the way to some fraught and intensely dramatic argument scenes as both characters work through their grief at the loss of the glue that gelled their family unit so well. The actress projects some dramatic clout here and shows that she is just as adept in such roles as she is the light, comical fluff that she so often finds herself cast in. Max Von Sydow gives an expressive performance in a dialogue free role as The Renter. Evidently becoming mute after an earlier traumatic experience, The Renter takes time to listen to Oskar and partially fills the void left by his father. Encouraging Oskar to face his fears, The Renter takes over from where Thomas left off and helps the boy discover more about himself and the world around him. Von Sydow uses facial expression to convey more meaning than dialogue ever could and the bond that forms between The Renter and Oskar is both touching and an engaging layer of the narrative.