EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE is an offensive film based on a faithful adaptation of an offensive novel. To that end, the blame for this exploitative, incredible (literally) movie lies with Jonathan Safran Foer - the novelist who exploited 9-11 to further his narcissistic fictional stylings. It's hard to see how screenwriter Eric Roth could've adapted the film while minimises the absurd central conceit that powers the film. And as for Stephen Daldry - once again, is it his poor judgement or his inability to disentangle himself from the mawkishness and self-indulgence that pollutes the novel?
The Big Idea is that a kid called Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), borderline autistic, is so traumatised by his father's death in 9-11 that he obsesses over the idea that his father might have left him one last puzzle - a key with the name "black". So he roams Manhattan interviewing every black, looking for the lock that his key will fit - some of the time, accompanied by a mute old man call The Renter (Max von Sydow) who turns out to be his grandfather (no real spoiler there). Eventually, he finds the lock, and we discover why his mother is being so apparently irresponsible, but none of it really feels credible. And, as with all high concept films, the incredible nature of the premise truly undermines our empathy with the characters. That said, even without the ludicrous concept, EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE would stretch any viewers patience. The characters either fall between the downright irritating (Oskar Schell and his mother) or the unbelievably good-hearted (Oskar's father - surely the most attentive screen dad in history). One can only assume that it's the presence of Hanks and Bullocks - Oscar sweethearts - that got this film nominated. Max von Sydow is sympathetic - sure - but his nomination looks like an end-of-career pat-on-the-back rather than a specific acclamation.
All I can say is that this is hands down the most irritating, exploitative film I have seen in quite some time. I discard it.
EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE is already on release in the USA and Canada. It will play Berlin 2012. It opens on February 16th in Germany, Portugal, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, the UK and Japan. It opens on February 24th in Argentina, Australia, Chile and Finland. It opens on February 29th in Belgium, France, Singapore and Brazil. It opens on March 8th in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands; on March 16th in Italy, Spain and Turkey; and on March 22nd in Slovenia. EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE has been nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and Max von Sydow has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor.