Monday, February 20, 2012

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

I remember the first time I saw the trailer for ExtremelyLoud and Incredibly Close. I saw Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, Max von Sydow and Jeffrey Wright in the preview and thought, “What a cast!” Top it off with an emotionally-charged, albeit touchy, backdrop in 9/11, and my expectations were high. Unfortunately, expectations are one thing, while what the film actually turns out to be is quite another.

Let me start off by talking about the few things that I actually liked. First and foremost, I think young Thomas Horn did a good job portraying Oskar Schell, a “nine-year-old amateur inventor, Francophile, and pacifist searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.”

I must admit, I was conflicted regarding Oskar, namely that at times he was endearing while at other times extremely bratty and annoying. Nonetheless, Horn’s portrayal evoked polarizing emotions, which I think is a testament to his range. It was a tall order asking a kid to depict a child who lost his father on one of America’s darkest days, but Horn did a satisfactory job in his acting debut.

I must also give props to Sydow, who played “The Renter.” He did a fine job in the supporting role, despite his character being a mute. That’s right, Sydow doesn’t say a single word in the movie, and in my opinion, he gave the best performance. I believe this for two reasons. First, Sydow’s facial expressions and gestures are so advanced that they allowed him to express emotions clearly without the benefit of words, and second, the talents of the other characters in the film were wasted.

Combined, the actors previously mentioned, with the exception of Sydow and Horn, had maybe 25 minutes of screen time out of the movie’s 129-minute run time, and that is being generous. Goodman had two lines as Stan the Doorman and was onscreen for less than a minute, which obviously failed to utilize his abilities. Meanwhile, Wright had a more active role, though he didn’t make an appearance until the film’s end.

As far as Hanks and Bullock are concerned, these are the players the audience will come to see, but leave wondering why the director, Stephen Daldry, failed to take advantage of the Oscar winners. Hanks lights up the screen when he’s actually on it, but that only constitutes maybe 15 minutes of the film. Bullock, on the other hand, didn’t seem her usual self. I found her character, Linda Schell, flat, boring, and uninspiring. The character was a woman who lost her husband on 9/11, yet I felt no connection to her.

The underutilization of the actors was extremely disappointing, but the story was also lacking. I was expecting a journey of self discovery by Oskar and the rest of the characters, and while this happened in some capacities, it just fell flat. The was obviously unbridled love underneath the dreary and cold veneer of the film, but it just never came to the surface. While it was extremely loud in terms of context and star power, it was not incredibly close in hitting the mark.

There were a few good things about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, but so much was left on the table that I imagine most viewers will leave unsatisfied and wanting. Whether they leave wanting either more story, closure, Hanks, or Bullock, the fact is they’re leaving unfulfilled. Not a great feeling to be spending your money on, unless it’s $1 at Redbox for the DVD.

Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 39%

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