WEATHER »
Thomas Horn plays the idiosyncratic son of a 9/11 causality in <em>Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close</em>.

Thomas Horn plays the idiosyncratic son of a 9/11 causality in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, and Sandra Bullock star in a film written by Eric Roth, based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer and directed by Stephen Daldry.


Whereas other, lesser American tragedies have been expectedly dealt with and also exploited in the public forum of film and television, the experience of 9/11 may still be too much of a vulnerable topic to address, a still-open wound that resists glib or melodramatic treatments. Released a decade after what the film’s young protagonist refers to as “the worst day,” Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — director Stephen Daldry’s ambitious but fumbling film adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel — comes close to bringing about some degree of collective closure to this unfathomably dark day in America and the history of the human tragicomedy.

But, in some way, its apparent flaws and irritating gusts of superficial gimmickry seem all the more suspicious given the gravity of the subject, the same sort of problem faced by Schindler’s List. Somehow, Hollywood’s bag of tricks and cozy dramatic resolutions feel insulting in the face of truly horrific moments in human history. We’re led into the large, complex issue of 9/11 through the incredibly close-up dramatic prism of the tale of one precious, highly verbal, and possibly Asperger-afflicted son (Thomas Horn) of a World Trade Center victim (Tom Hanks). In the periphery of his effort to find the meaning of a certain key — an intentionally unsubtle metaphor — are his struggling mother (Sandra Bullock) and an older man (Max von Sydow) who aids in the young man’s project of discovery, and whose muteness hides its own backstory of festering terror-induced pain.

In a real way, Safran Foer’s novel resembles his earlier Everything Is Illuminated, in that a family member is on a quest to discover unresolved mysteries in his familial past, and the interlacing of chronologies and parallel characters’ stories make for a natural crossover to the language of cinema. Brit director Daldry, whose previous films The Hours and The Reader similarly take on serious themes with a style oscillating between artistic flair and pretentiousness, doesn’t seem to keep his mind or focus on the delicate work at hand here. There are fine moments all along the way, including a plot scheme that brings a large group of New Yorkers into close and empathetic contact, but the sentimentality factor ultimately reminds us that it’s only a movie, sprinkled with Hollywood fairy dust instead of deeper, darker truths.

For showtimes, check the Independent's movie listings, here.

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Dyer Returns as Interim Fire Chief

When Eric Peterson steps down, Mike Dyer will fill in for County Fire.

Santa Barbara Bodybuilder Wins Mr. Olympia Competition

At 43, Shawn “Flexatron” Rhoden ties for the oldest champ in the contest's history.

Renovated Cabrillo Ball Park Now Open

The park got new exercise equipment, multi-use grass turf areas, and an upgraded softball field.

UCSB Researcher Charged with Molesting Child on Campus

Dr. Hongjun Zhou was arrested September 6.

Teen Serial Robber Caught and Confesses

The suspect was identified through an anonymous tipster.