What do you do when you lose the one person you’re closest to before you’re ready? Do you simply give up and start the healing process or do you hold onto whatever’s left with all you have?
Without any explanation, we open on the funeral of jeweler, husband, and father Thomas Schell (portrayed in flashback sequences by Tom Hanks) but Oskar, his son (played by Thomas Horn) won’t tolerate the formality of a funeral with an empty coffin and as firefighters and rescue workers were unable to find his remains among the wreckage of the World Trade Center, the symbolic burial was the only option available to Linda, Thomas’s wife and Oskar’s mother (played by Sandra Bullock). Still struggling, Oskar (Horn) goes to a closet filled with his father’s things and, among them, finds a jacket with an envelope containing a key and the word “black” written on the outside. Where is the lock? What’s contained inside? After exhausting easily available sources of information (e.g. the doorman in his building and the neighborhood locksmith) Oskar decides to launch a massive investigation of any listing with the name Black contained with the five boroughs of New York City. An undertaking that would be difficult enough on its own but made even more so by his many phobias and unusual personality traits. Some of which include carrying a tambourine as a form of stress ball and avoiding public transportation at all costs.
Watching Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between it and August Rush, a 2007 film starring Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. On the other hand, the receptions they received are complete mirror images. Audiences have not exactly embraced the former despite its Academy Award nomination while August Rush was generally maligned by critics and praised by audiences. That is the position I find myself in. To this day, I still watch my copy of August Rush while Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close just left me confused and otherwise dissatisfied. Good performances all around and a good comeback for Hanks after the Larry Crowne debacle, still I wasn’t impressed.