9/11 Is Backdrop For Oscar Nominated Film

By Leslie Diana–2/17/2012
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” is a movie encompassing the sensitive subject of 9/11. Stephen Daldry’s film has fared very well, at least in the eyes of the Academy which nominated it for Best Picture. However, critics were not as kind, giving the two-hour and nine minute saga a mere 46% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film’s beginning presents an ominous cloud of foreboding. When Daldry paints a picture of the Schells’ family life, there is a sense that time will soon be cut short for Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks). Not long after, the events of September 11th start in vivid detail.
Schell’s only child Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) struggles with Aspergers. He is suddenly fatherless and his mother Linda (Sandra Bullock) is a widow. After finding a key belonging to his father, Oskar sets out on a quest to find what it unlocks. Along the way, he meets a wide variety of people, many who are struggling with their own loss. This literal journey coincides with the healing journey that he takes with his mother.
As a newcomer to the entertainment industry, 14 year-old Horn gives an impressively comprehensive performance alongside Hollywood heavyweights Hanks, and Bullock. He portrays Oskar with a freshness and unadulterated sincerity.
These admirable acting qualities can be seen most clearly in scenes that highlight Oskar’s evocative eruptions of grief and rage. The Renter (an elderly mute man renting a room in Oskar’s grandmother’s apartment,) is played by Max von Sydow. He often serves as an outlet for Oskar, silently absorbing his outbursts of pain and frustration. Only towards the end of the movie does he begin to emanate fragments of his reactions, helping Oskar through his mourning.
This film is based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s fictional novel. Yet it provides an undercurrent of emotional truth that is cathartic, overwhelming, and freeing. Stephen Daldry has not made a movie about 9/11. He has made a film that speaks to universal loss with post-September 11th New York City as its backdrop.