Giovanni's Blu-ray Review: EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE

Join precocious nine-year-old Oskar Shell on a powerful emotional journey of discovery and grief when “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital Download on March 27 from Warner Home Entertainment Group. Nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Picture, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is not a story about September 11, 2001, but about every day after.

The Film

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The events of September 11th left many Americans searching for answers as to why such a tragedy would ever occur. It’s difficult to accept that so many people lost their lives for no logical reason. In Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, based off the acclaimed novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, that question drives the inquisitive, young Oskar (Thomas Horn) on an expedition to find closure a year after his father (Tom Hanks) was killed in the terrorist attacks. It’s partially a mystery story, as Oscar searches for a lock to fit a key hidden in his father’s closet. But the puzzling story isn’t all that intriguing, taking a backseat to the heavy, emotional drama of a post-9/11 narrative. Director Stephen Daldry goes for tears, but his direction is stiff and bland, even with a well-written script.

But a major problem comes from the main protagonist. Newcomer Thomas Horn is enthusiastic, but his performance is overdirected. Oskar is loud and theatrical, quickly becoming obnoxious. Not to mention that the film is overstuffed with Oskar’s voice-overs, shattering the unspoken “show don’t tell” rule. Fortunately, the supporting cast fares much better with heartfelt performances from Max Von Sydow, Viola Davis, and Sandra Bullock. The actors shine when they’re on screen, taking a bit of attention off the central problems. Eventually it all wraps up into an expectedly neat, boring package, cautious to leave room for hope amongst the weepy sentimentality. Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close aims to offer a sense of closure 10 years after 9/11, but it’s simply too boring to elicit much more than yawns; albeit heartfelt ones.

Special Features Breakdown

Making Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close - The making of documentary follows the film from adapting Doer’s book through production. The interviews from Stephen Daldry, writer Eli Roth, and members of the cast are solid, as they discuss their emotional connections to the project. It’s a touching story, even if the film doesn’t quite do it justice, and it’s nice to see how genuinely committed everyone was to it.

Finding Oskar - The featurette discusses how Thomas Horn was discovered to play the role of Oskar. There’s some insight into what it’s like to work with a child actor, including some great behind-the-scenes footage of Daldry directing Horn. For those interested in the subject, this short bio of Horn actually has value.

Ten Years Later - To honor the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, the film includes a personal production anecdote revolving around a memorial wall featured in the film. It’s a powerful, true story that has much more of an impact than the film itself.

Max Von Sydow: Dialogues With The Renter - Sydow gained a lot of attention after his Oscar nomination for the film, so it makes sense that he’d get his own feature. The mini-documentary, made by the actor’s son, is a intimate, lovely behind-the-scenes portrait of a living legend, rounding out a surprisingly great set of features for an unremarkable film.

3 Stars

Adapted from the acclaimed bestseller by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is a story that unfolds from inside the young mind of Oskar Schell, an inventive eleven year-old New Yorker whose discovery of a key in his deceased father’s belongings sets him off on an urgent search across the city for the lock it will open. A year after his father died in the World Trade Center on what Oskar calls “The Worst Day,” he is determined to keep his vital connection to the man who playfully cajoled him into confronting his wildest fears.

Now, as Oskar crosses the five New York boroughs in quest of the missing lock - encountering an eclectic assortment of people who are each survivors in their own way - he begins to uncover unseen links to the father he misses, to the mother who seems so far away from him and to the whole noisy, dangerous, discombobulating world around him.