Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema Terribly Long & Awfully Sentimental

Magazine article The Spectator

Cinema Terribly Long & Awfully Sentimental

Article excerpt

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 12A,

Nationwide Unless I am Extremely Dim & Incredibly Thick, which is always a possibility - you think I don't know? I do - this Stephen Daldry adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 novel Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close just doesn't seen to have any point, and is sentimental and banal as well as very, very long (or so it seemed). It may have worked as a book - I can't say; I never read it - but as a film it's a trial.

Why has it been Oscar-nominated in the Best Picture category? No idea, although I would suggest it caters to America's idea of itself as a nation that can triumph over anything, including 9/11, and to the notion that all scars can always be healed, which I'm thinking is patently trite nonsense. Would you make a film about the Holocaust in this spirit, for example? Could you? Would you want to? I think these are reasonable questions although, being Extremely Dim & Incredibly Thick, it may, of course, strike you as otherwise. I'm just putting all this out there, for your consideration, as they say. I won't blame you if you dismiss it.

Our hero is Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn), an 11-year-old boy who is super-bright and super-articulate but registers somewhere on the Asperger's spectrum, so finds social situations difficult and awkward. Oskar makes sense of his life via rules, numbers, random facts, but mostly never stops talking. ('Oh, for an hour of Herod, ' as my grandmother used to say. ) Anyway, Oskar's father, Thomas, died on 9/11, which is a particular shame because, as we see in flashbacks, Thomas was The World's Greatest Dad (as played by Tom Hanks, naturally).

Oskar's father really got Oskar, spending countless hours with him and inventing all sorts of stories and mind games to keep Oskar amused, and helping him with his phobias, which range from bridges and public transport to the swings in Central Park.

His mother Linda (a gentle Sandra Bullock) is the parent Oskar would have chosen to die, as he tells her at one point, but she may not be as absent and neglectful as she first appears. He also has a German grandmother (Zoe Caldwell), who lives over the street and whom he talks to via walkie-talkie, which is kind of cute the first time, but not so much by the seventh.

For a year, Oskar is too bereaved to investigate what his father has left behind but then, one day, he ventures into his father's closet, where he finds a key in a blue vase. …

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