Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks) is Oskar’s (Thomas Horn) father very engaged father. Oskar is a precocious, articulate and quirky boy who is afraid of loud noises, open spaces, airplanes and other dangerous modes of transportation. He and his father have a strong bond, leaving the mother (Sandra Bullock) somewhat off to the side. On the worst day, September 11, 2001, Thomas, a jeweler, has a morning meeting on the 105th floor of the World Trade Center. The events that were set in motion that morning, sending the country and the world into shock, sent Oskar into an emotional tailspin.
A year after that terrible day, Oskar dares sneak into this father’s closet, which had been left untouched. When he pulls something from a high shelf he accidentally dislodges a blue vase. The vase falls to the floor and breaks. It contained a mysterious envelope with a key in it and the name Black written on it. Oskar believes this is a clue from his father and he sets out to find the lock that the key belongs to, in all of New York City.
On his long journey visiting all the people named Black in New York he affects the lives of many people, and things turn out quite differently than he expected.
The title of the movie should have been Secrets and Demons. Many of the people he comes across have secrets they hang on to. They have demons that chase them, day and night, through the years and the decades. I am sure that a day like September 11th created many more demons in many more people, and I cannot imagine what kind of damage it would do to the children that lost parents in that tragedy. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close deals with those demons and suggests that secret closets, spaces under beds, literally as well as those we create in our own heads, are the only way to cope with life.
The movie was based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, an author I have not read, but I suspect that crucial connections were left out and deflated the impact. As a result, it had me feeling deeply, but it also left me wanting for more. All the pieces didn’t quite fit together for me.
Rating: ** 1/2