Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

rating: 6/10

I find that I become more emotionally affected by the events of 9/11 not in seeing the World Trade Twin Towers crash down but in knowing the stories of the individuals who met their untimely death during the terrorist act. I’ve listened to their frantic 911 calls eerily cut short and watched documentaries of valiant firemen and airline passengers who fought to save lives.

This movie tells us the story of a family trying to cope with the death of a husband (Tom Hanks), who died while at World Trade. The most riveting scenes were when Tom kept on making separate, frantic phone calls to his wife (Sandra Bullock) and son (Thomas Horn) while he was trapped in the tower; that was also when I began to question whether “prying” on their supposed private moments is something I should feel guilty about. There’s also the argument that the scenes were being milked for its drama—to induce tears and pander to the audience’s emotions.

For example, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when the camera would have these contrived, establishing shots of people standing still, looking at the camera with such dazzling seriousness and sadness. I found that these ‘artistic’ shots and montages (and there were many of them) only made the characters’ emotional journey shallow, as if the tragedy can be summed up in one cool music video. Inversely, I found the ‘normal’ and ‘quiet’ camera work the most poignant and sincere. (e.g., Sandra Bullock in her office with a full view of the Towers.)

I also hated how the film kept the audience in suspense by holding back on the sixth, final message that Tom left in the answering machine minutes before he died. I mean, how was I, as the voyeur in the family’s “worst day of their lives” (as the boy kept on quoting), supposed to feel about it—”Can we listen to him die already?”

As an actor, the kid has a bright future ahead of him because he was truly extremely loud and incredibly annoying as the role called for it. (I’m still not sure if he was supposed to be autistic, or have some other mental problem.) In any case, it was incredibly hard to root or even feel sorry for him because there was nothing endearing about his character, and being the lead, that made it harder for me to watch the movie without rolling my eyes a lot.

There are other themes explored in the movie, such as family, death and human idiosyncrasies; as well as subthemes, such as terrorism—and they certainly made the film, with the erratic camera work, disjointed for me.

This movie gets a high rating from me only because of Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and Max Von Sydow, who played the ‘stranger.’ The kid’s character was simply too annoying for me and I couldn’t get why he needed to be alive. In any case, this movie has received mixed reviews so you may find it good.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close opens in theaters today.

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