Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)
Although Thomas Horn is a wonderful little actor, and although I feel almost guilty for being critical of a film with such wide-eyed intentions about such an extremely painful and incredibly devastating event, there are just too many things that aren't working in this film by Stephen Daldry for me to commend it.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close centers around a young boy called Oskar (Thomas Horn) whose dad, with whom the boy is very close, dies in the Septemer 11 attacks. When a year later he finds a hidden key in his father's locker, Oskar embarks on a city-wide search for the lock which fits the key, believing that solving this mystery will solidify his memory of his father. As the synopsis suggests, this is a story about mourning and dealing with the loss of a loved one, a thematic which has proven popular (and effective) in so many movies that I cannot even begin to start naming them. Add to that echoes of world-wide conflicts and history, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close may start sounding epic, but what director Daldry creates here mostly amounts to castles in the air. He is constantly and insistently seeking to soak each scene and each shot with meaning, but the result mostly comes off as an overly poetic imitation of lives which may have seemed real and forceful on novelist Jonathan Safran Foer's writing table (or in his book, for that matter, I haven't read it), but which feel mostly contrived as conceived by Daldry. A mushy score, oversized meanderings and a predictable, unremarkable ending does little to overcome the deficit.
For a film which grazes important subjects and observations, the end result is nothing short of disappointing. And especially so because it's a waste of a brilliant lead-performance by young Horn. Unlike the first adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's books, Everything Is Illuminated from 2005, this feels like something that Foer has thought out, not something he has experienced. The style is obviously similar, even after being processed by two different directors, but the heart of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close feels like it's controlled by a pacemaker.