“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is probably the most disrespected film ever nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
This challenging drama was directed by high-toned director Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliot,” “The Reader”) and adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer’s best-selling novel by screenwriter Eric Roth (“Forrest Gump”). Despite that prestigious pedigree, and the presence of major stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, “Loud” barely received a theatrical release. And reviews generally ranged from indifferent to openly hostile.
Me? I rushed it into the No. 3 slot on my top 10 slot at the last minute.
Those lambasting the film seemed to regard it as cynically manipulating the decade-old tragedy of 9/11, as a young boy searches the city of New York for clues to a game he played with his father, who died in the World Trade Center. I think these critics erroneously tried to force the label of “the definitive 9/11 movie” on the film, when really, it’s more a ruminative tale about a very specific, unusual child.
As played with devastating effect by newcomer Thomas Horn, Oskar Schell is a brilliant but shy boy, possibly autistic, whose only substantial human relationship was with his dad (Hanks). When he dies, Oskar doggedly pursues the mystery behind one of the puzzle-like adventures his father would concoct for him, mostly as a ruse to force him to interact with other people.
It’s a bracing, sad and joyous journey.