Our next film, EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE is based on the popular 2005 novel by Jonathan Safren Foer about a young boy played by Thomas Horn whose father dies in the World Trade Center. The father, a likeable, handy jeweler, is played in flashbacks by Tom Hanks.
Looking through his father’s stuff months after his death, the boy finds a mysterious key in an envelope marked “Black.” Assuming that the key must belong to someone named Black, the boy sets off on a quest to meet every person in New York City with that last name, in the hope that they’ll know where the key goes.
The boy also befriends a mute elderly man who is renting a room from his grandmother. He’s played by Max Von Sydow—and though the actor’s distinctive baritone is one of the most recognizable voices in movies, he manages to do pretty well without it.
Though this is a movie about a boy meeting people from all walks of life, most of them don’t register as characters—and since it’s a film about a very real tragedy and about grief, it’s unfortunate that much of it feels thin as a storybook. Thumbs down.
CHRISTY: Thumbs down from me. It’s really mockish and really heavy-handed, and it overloads the sentiment and the emotion while simultaneously skimping on characterization. I mean you mentioned the people that he meets on his-his little journey don’t feel like real people at all.
IGNATIY: Well, because you never see them.
IGNATIY: They’re just appear in montages except for Viola Davis
CHRISTY: Right, and then--there’s a nice moment with her, but I would argue even the main characters don’t feel like well fleshed out people. Like Tom Hanks, yes he appears in flashbacks, but he is just sort of vaguely magical, and you don’t really know what kind of complicated guy he might have been. Sandra Bullock, I mean, she has one nice scene with him toward the end; with this big reveal toward the end about how she’s been dealing with her son’s journey, and there’s just nothing really to her. She waits at home, and she’s unhappy and—and at the same time the boy is shrieky. This is going to sound so mean. I know this is going to sound so mean. He’s really kind of insufferable.
IGNATIY: I think the character is supposed to be a little bit—a litle bit difficult in this.
CHRISTY: They over do it, though. It gets very shrill repeatedly.
IGNATIY: They do over do it. There’s—there is an imbalance in this movie where everything is really over done but at the same time kind of under developed.
CHRISTY: Yeah, I’d say there’s one good scene toward the end that the whole room where I saw it people were balling, but other than that, yeah, nothing really going on here.