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Reel Views: Extremely Loud a heart-wrenching tale

Alison McGee | Interrobang | Lifestyles | February 13th, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

In his new movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Director Stephen Daldry brings into excruciating focus the life of a borderline autistic boy struggling with the aftermath of his father's death in the World Trade Center on September 11.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is adapted from the novel of the same name by author Jonathan Safran Foer, documents the quest of nine-year-old inventor/ explorer Oskar Schell to locate the lock that matches the key that his father hid in a closet. Oskar's quest takes him to every borough of New York City where he meets hundreds of people in a precisely calculated group, all in his desperate attempt to find the mysterious lock. Through his journey, Oskar discovers a long-forgotten family member and learns the secret to his father's key.

Tom Hanks brings to life Oskar's father Thomas Schell, a man with endless patience for his socially challenged son. Hanks, as always, evokes a tear-jerking response from viewers as his character's pain radiates from the screen. Particularly difficult to get through without getting choked up are the phone calls Thomas makes from his meeting high up in the World Trade Center as he becomes more and more certain he will not make it home.

Playing opposite Hanks as Oskar's mother Linda Schell is Sandra Bullock. Bullock, who is best known and most criticized for her numerous romantic comedies, proves that she can handle the emotional depth of her character in Extremely Loud. Linda makes a surprising transformation from a woman who seems to have no connection to her son to become the one person who is one step ahead of and always watching over Oskar.

Also of note in the cast is Max von Sydow as The Renter. Despite the fact that von Sydow has no lines of dialogue, as The Renter is by choice mute, he offers the audience many of the film's lighter, funnier moments.

The real credit for acting in Extremely Loud must go to young Thomas Horn, who takes centre screen as Oskar. Horn, who gained notoriety for being the winner of Jeopardy! Kids Week!, packs a big punch in his big screen debut. There is simply not enough praise that can be given to this young star whose charisma and presence on screen not only brings the movie to life but gives it a distinct and endearing personality.

What makes Extremely Loud a touching film is not the heavy subject matter or the portrait of a family dealing with unimaginable grief, but the way in which the viewer feels every experience through Oskar. While Oskar is walking down a busy Manhattan street, the sound effects are cranked, the camera is shaky and the audience feels every bit of anxiety that young Oskar must endure.

Be prepared to tear up (at least a little) and head on out to see Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Rating: 4 out of 5
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