Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, dir. Stephen Daldry, wr. Eric Roth, based on the book by Jonathan Safran Foer, st. Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Max von Sydow

From the moment young Oskar Schell (Horn) packs a tambourine into his backpack as he sets off to complete a scavenger hunt, invented by his Father (Hanks) as a kind of interactive character-building exercise, you'll have registered this film's employment of whimsy as a lubricating agent aimed to offset the use of 9/11 as a narrative backdrop. So is it anything more than prosaic and predictable Oscar bait? Possibly. But it turns out it doesn't really matter, as Oskar is so unlikeable (every other word is snarkily hissed out in haughty tones), one very quickly ceases to care. Oh but he's hurting, yeah? Yes but this is a movie, not real life, and you alienate your protagonist from your audience at your peril. Edit in Alexandre Desplat's full-fat and gushing score, redonkulous plot-holes and it's nigh on impossible to take Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close with any level of sincerity. The film doesn't denigrate any memories, and I don't think it's insensitive to the legacy of September 11th. But in the same way that the usage of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah is lazy writers' shorthand for *Insert Generic Emotion Here*, any work of fiction concerning 9/11 needs to work extremely hard and incredibly cautiously to avoid the same fate.