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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Terrorism > Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)


Picture: B- & C     Sound: B- & C+     Extras: C-     Film: C-



Stephen Daldry made his name as a director on the hit film Billy Elliott (2000), then moved on to the decent The Hours (2002) and then waited a while before he made the incredibly problematic The Reader (2008, reviewed elsewhere on this site).  That film had some real issues dealing with history and The Holocaust, but I figured it was likely a one-time major complication.  Now with Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011), he makes a film that is as problematic and borderline offensive when dealing with the events and aftermath of the 9/11/01 attacks on New York City, et al.


Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are a happily married couple in The Big Apple with a son Oskar (Thomas Horn) who are going about their business when Hanks’ work takes him on 9/11 to the top of one of the World Trade Center Towers hours before the attack.  Instead of telling this chronologically, the script goes back and fourth, but especially focuses on Oskar and how he has to deal with this.  Bullock is out of her element, John Goodman and Viola Davis show up as “Safe” characters and Max Von Sydow is a mute older man with a secret or two about Oskar’s life.


Oskar finds a key and goes on a quest if it has something to do with his father, something he left behind.  Though there is much to say about this event, including many things Oliver Stone’s somewhat forgotten film on the subject missed, this tale does not know what it wants to be or to do.  The melodrama is borderline offensive in its banality and trivializing of what happened as it distracts from what is the more important event.  The cast is good because they had the money to hire them, but maybe lesser known actors would have helped, but nothing can save the film from Daldry’s awful directing, especially in the shrill, obnoxious, histrionic, unconvincing, pointless, counterproductive and unrealistic performance by Horn as a nine-year-old on an emotional rampage.


In real life, responsible parents would have had him in therapy, but not here.  He talks at, often yells, pouts, screams and flips out for most of the long, long 129 minutes of this disturbingly unbalanced work.  He sounds like he is ready to audition for Annie (and maybe sell Pringles) in his yell-an-octave higher-than-he-should voice and when all is said and done, was this really about 9/11, the underdeveloped characters or anything?  No.  It plays like a borderline feel-good mentality film in the worst possible way, just avoiding total trivialization of its subject matter.  Sydow is the only one whose performance does not seem comatose (Daldry’s fault again) and it shows that he should never do films about big subject material because he does not have the directing talent or guts to handle them.


The result is a film with “respect” and some critical positive response, but in real life, it is a horrible film that few really like and the lack of box office or buzz shows I cannot possibly be the only person who could not believe how ultimately inept the whole affair was and always will be.  Screenplay writer Eric Roth used to do great scripts like Munich, The Insider and Suspect, but his last one was The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, but he is clearly slipping even though this was based on a book,





The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer was shot with the new Arri Alexa HD camera and exhibits some soft edges and detail limits throughout, which is to be expected, Director of Photography Chris Menges is not awful, but not that memorable either and the anamorphically enhanced DVD is much weaker, so see it on Blu-ray if you have the choice.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix is towards the front speakers, dialogue based and has limited sonics as a result despite some good recording.  The lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD is weaker still.


Extras include UltraViolet Digital Copy and four making of featurettes exclusive to Blu-ray.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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