Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ packs an emotional wallop

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is a marvelous film that successfully surpasses the often cringe-inducing label of the “9/11 movie.” Although the characters’ reflections on the day do trigger quite a few of the film’s heart-wrenching, tear-jerking moments, it is ultimately the young protagonist’s journey to self-reconciliation that achieves the most emotional prominence.

Starring actors Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” can be categorized as a heartfelt family film. The young star, Horn, plays a 9-year-old investigator who seeks to solve the puzzle he assumes his father has left him to solve.

From a young age, Horn’s character, Oskar, and his father, Hanks, bond by looking for the sixth borough of New York City. Although Oskar doubts its existence, due to his father’s encouragement he continues to search. He believes by solving the dubiously intentional mystery he will hold on to his father forever and somehow escape the fact of his death in the World Trade Center attacks.

In the film, everything from the sound design to the cinematography has some element of being, appropriately, extremely loud or incredibly close. In general, the title serves as a literal description of the boy’s journey and the fact that no matter how close he thinks he is to a solution, no one seems to have the answers he needs.

At points in the film, Oskar finds solace in Central Park, where, as he climbs the enormous rock garden, he can look out on the world of New York City. The famous beauty of the New York City skyline is framed beautifully not by the iconic skyscrapers usually associated with the image, but rather by the winsomeness of the trees and landscape, evoking an air of natural peace and exquisiteness. While positioned in Central Park, the character is brought close to home, an effectively universalized place associated with warmth and security. But the city does not make him feel secure or safe, and as a result we question what he considers to be his home.

Once he leaves the park, and the “real,” chaotic world of NYC settles in, the ubiquitous soundscape booms through the theatre as the character travels further from his comfort zone. Oskar, who demonstrates many symptoms of autism, has a difficult time not becoming overwhelmed by people, noises and frustration. The strength of the sound design deftly parallels the character’s mood; when he is relaxed, the sound is subtly relegated to the background or is non-existent, but when he is upset, it crescendos to meet his emotional state. Usually, it will start softly, and as Oskar becomes upset it builds, becoming louder and louder until he reaches a point where he cannot handle it anymore. At that point, the young boy and the audience are both inclined to cover their ears.

The one question repeated during the film was “Do you know my father, Thomas Shell?” As the film progresses we learn that the story is not about knowing Thomas Shell, it’s about finding out who Oskar Shell really is; discovering whom he loves, journeying with him to overcome his fears and making friends, which is the hardest task any socially ill child can face.

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is not about losing someone in 9/11, it’s about finding someone. The film is Oscar nominated for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (Max Von Sydow).

Reana Garcia can be reached at [email protected].

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    Bolders TonieJan 19, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Great Movie ❤️