Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close

January 21, 2012 by staff 

Extremely Loud And Incredibly CloseExtremely Loud And Incredibly Close, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is about so many things. More than anything, though, it’s a story about how trauma can make people refugees from their own minds. In particular, young Oskar Schell.

This story isn’t about t*rror*sm. OK, it is – there are the themes of the 9/11 attacks and three generations of a family assaulted by stifling fear and trauma.

“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is about courage and what happens after Oskar’s father, Thomas (Tom Hanks), is killed on what the 9-year-old can only call The Worst Day.

Flashbacks show happy father and son, playing word games and mapping Central Park in New York City, studying newspapers and hacking out karate moves on the living room floor.

Flash forward. “It’s going to be fine. Everything’s going to be fine. … We’re all fine.” Thomas says to his wife in a call from the 105th floor of one of the Twin Towers. The plane’s already hit it. She begs him to run.

Sent home from school early, Oskar (Thomas Horn) hears a similar message from his father on the answering machine: Dad’s OK. Everything’s fine.

Oskar’s alone, TV blaring. He turns to watch the towers collapse, knowing his father’s inside.

His world crumples.

Oskar is more than precocious. He knows that he probably has Asperger’s syndrome, or is borderline autistic. After 9/11 every fear is magnified – planes, noise, water, trains, being in crowds, being alone.

So many people have left him. His grandfather. His father. After the attacks, his mother Linda (Sandra Bullock) seems ever-distant as she folds into her own depression.

“Nothing would stop me. Not even me,” Oskar says. He feels the inherent desperation of the unknown, survivor’s guilt and even rage. He self-harms. He screams.

One day, he’s exploring his dead dad’s closet and finds a key. Oskar embarks on an obsessive mission to find what it unlocks.

He’s driven out of his apartment and into the streets.

His quirky, often-insatiable curiosity reminds us that humans can heal – and bond – through tragedy. He makes lists of people who might have known his father and decides to meet them all.

Soon, he meets a man known only as The Renter (Max von Sydow), his grandmother’s mysterious lodger. The kind-faced mute sheds handwritten notes like leaves from an old oak as he befriends the lonely boy. Oskar learns The Renter escaped bombs in Germany during World War II.

Oskar also realizes that people are more than numbers or lists or things. The victims of 9/11, his family, The Renter, everyone. Everyone has a story to tell.

There’s something bigger happening in the grief-stricken city – and in the storyline. The Worst Day is the moment when each person loses innocence, becomes hypervigilant, hides under a bed. Nothing erases The Worst Day. Ever. “We’ve all lost somebody or something,” Oskar says.

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