Friday, March 16, 2012

Extremely loud and incredibly close

Everyone was quite surprised when the Academy decided to add Stephen Daldry’s (The Reader, The Hours, Billy Elliot) strangely hybrid ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ to the list of Best film nominations for 2011. It’s almost if the film came from nowhere, as there was no hype about the film before the mention, which obviously changed as soon as the nominees were announced. I have to admit that I was just as curious to see what all the fuss was about as the rest of the world, hence the existence of this review you are now reading.

You would think that Americans got over the whole 9/11 thing, but this film makes it clear that they really haven’t. But to the film’s defence, it does give an interesting twist to the whole aftermath of the events and how it affected those that were left to pick up the jagged pieces of their lives. Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock’s names are added to the poster for promotional purposes, but even though their presence in the film is felt (Bullock delivers a commendable performance), the true star here is definitely newcomer Thomas Horn, who plays the son of a 9/11 widow.

Horn plays a very complex role indeed, with his character suffering from an extreme disconnect from the world that isn’t made any more bearable by his outbursts of rage, his nonsensical monologues and distinctly disrespectful demeanour. He sees himself as a kid locked in the body of an adult and at times, he really does convince you that he might not be as delusional as he seems. Horn’s excellent portrayal of this intriguing boy alone is worth the price of admission as he keeps the quite flimsy screenplay moving along long after you’ve forgotten that the movie doesn’t really have much of a point.

".... he keeps the quite flimsy screenplay moving along long after you’ve forgotten that the movie doesn’t really have much of a point."

Yes, the film’s acting, which extends to a powerful ensemble cast of a-list actors is for the most part spot on, but the screenplay itself feels disjointed, unnecessarily stretched out and loses steam quite quickly, as director Daldry tries to focus on too many things that just don’t seem to matter in the long run. While the weird and jumbled-up pacing of the film might suit the mindset of the protagonist, it doesn’t translate as well to the normal audience members that have to experience it.

It’s an ambitious project, which scores more frequently than it misses, but these few flaws really do make it hard to understand why the film was nominated for Best film. It’s certainly an interesting film, but not best film material. Nonetheless, it’s a movie that I can recommend for its enthralling protagonist and interesting premise alone.

It's a highly emotional, strange adventure. 
Highlight: A moving confrontation between a young boy and a very old man reaches an intense climax that is sure to leave an impression on you.