Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close & Slightly Inept

Friday February 10th 2012

Using 9/11 as a springboard for one boy’s lazily metaphorical journey across the five boroughs of New York, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is a big, important, profound movie and it REALLY wants you to know it. Its lengthy reconstructions of the September 11th attacks are predictably harrowing, with director Stephen Daldry gladly amping up the trauma to near hysterical levels, but without much in the way of analysis, the scenes are only affecting by implication — like the computer simulation at the beginning of Titanic. And when über-precocious 10-year-old Oskar teams up with Max Von Sydow to uncover the secrets behind an obvious MacGuffin a mysterious key, the film starts to feel like a Very Special Episode of some hopelessly lightweight kids TV show, misguidedly attempting to have its say on an issue it can barely comprehend, let alone interpret.

Regardless, Extremely Loud serves as a timely reminder of the arbitrary nature of the Oscar race. Pundits were up in arms when it inched its way into the Best Picture race last month, beating out more worthy contenders like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Drive. But strip away all the hype and the relentless precursor analysis and it’s by no means the worst film in contention. Have you seen The fucking Help? Geez.