Thomas Horn Nails His Role
Ten years after 9/11, director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter Eric Roth tackle a story focused on the events of that tragic date. Their film, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, deals with how one family is still trying to come to grips with their loss. Itís based on Jonathan Safran Foerís post-9/11 novel.
Eleven-year-old Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) is left to deal with his fatherís death in the Twin Towers. Although Thomas (Tom Hanks) did not work there, he was attending a meeting in the Towers on 9/11. While his wife Linda (Sandra Bullock) grieves in her own way, itís Oskar, a youngster with high intelligence but eccentric and obsessive behaviors -- a form of Asperger's -- that she worries about.
As shown in flashbacks, Thomas was especially dedicated to Oskar, making fun time also a learning curve as they played word games and had scavenger hunts. Along with his memories -- and unbeknownst to his mother -- Oskar also has hidden the last six voice messages his dad left when he called from the Twin Towers while obviously aware he wasnít going to get out.
Somewhat of an amateur inventor, Oskar loves to explore new things. So heís excited when he finds a mysterious key belonging to his dad that bears the name Black on the back. Itís a challenge for him, and he canít imagine what the key will reveal, but heís excited to find out. Gathering maps, plotting some key landmarks, and armed with a list of people in New Yorkís five boroughs who might have known his dad and what the key unlocks, Oskar sets out on the adventure. Linda is hesitant about her sonís plans, but knowing how much he needs to be proactive in his healing, allows him this freedom.
Oscarís journey is extensive and adventurous, especially since he fears subways, swings, and elevators -- but he meets a host of interesting people, some who slam the door in his face. In his own building he meets his grandmotherís (Zoe Caldwell) new renter (Max von Sydow), a man he eventually convinces to accompany him on a day trip. Other encounters include: Stan (John Goodman), their doorman; Abby Black (Viola Davis), a new divorcee; a deli worker (Julian Tepper) and a prayer woman (Bernadette Drayton).
While the movie tends to be a little long with some redundant elements, young Thomas Horn is amazing. With only a TV appearance as a contestant on Jeopardy and a role in TVís Made in Hollywood to his credit; Horn steals this poignant movie. He projects pure emotions of loss, sadness and determination during every moment heís on screen.
ďIt didnít take long before everyone in the crew began to feel that we werenít dealing with a child actor,Ē Daldry said. ďHe was just our leading man and he proved to be extraordinary.Ē
Daldry is no stranger to finding heartfelt stories -- Billy Elliot, The Reader, The Hours -- and casting sensational actors such as Jamie Bell in Billy Elliot.
Hanks, only in the film in flashbacks, seals his character thoroughly. However, Bullock could have phoned in her small role. Alexandre Desplatís (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2) moving musical score beefs up the sadness in this film, but there are a few visuals shown about 9/11 that may be grim for some to watch. Still, the story is an important and touching reminder that so many are still dealing with their loss, and to miss the performance of Thomas Horn would be unfortunate.
(Released by Warner Bros. Pictures and rated ďPG-13Ē for emotional thematic material, some disturbing images, and language.)
Review also posted at www.reviewexpress.com.