Review~ Odyssey In New York, A Boy On A Journey of Personal Discovery; Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, with Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, Zoe Caldwell, Max von Sydow, Viola Davis, Stephen Daldry (Director).  I went in blind, again with this film & upon seeing that its main character was a child (with Asperger’s Syndrome) I almost bailed out.  But I kept going & was mildly surprised that this all turned out to be very interesting.  Interesting.

I know it sounds a little odd, but the main standout characters in this film were supporting actors.  Von Sydow & Viola Davis were (by far) the surprises in the box. Both of these actors are each, simply the best that acting currently has to offer.  Max von Sydow, as far as I’m concerned, is king of the gods & Viola Davis is plainly extraordinary in her presence, talent & film choices.  She was last in The Help.

Call me a traditionalist (or something else) but I’ve previously made it clear I’m not a big fan of children.  To me, the old adage “children are to be seen & not heard” always rings true on so many levels.  There are those that are concerned with, take care of & champion children for one reason or another & then there are the rest of us who concern ourselves with things adult.  In the world of opinions about films, children are what they are & usually make a film a second class affair, unless they are indeed the main characters or integral to the plot.

The child in this film, played by Thomas Horn, is the main character.  He has a troubling (read, problematic & obnoxious) disease & is of the age that I would assume even parents would say “go out & play”, whether there’s a serial killer in the area or not.  It’s not so bad as that but I can’t resist reinforcing (& broadcasting) my views on children.

Hanks, again, is resting on his laurels & gives a horrible disappointing performance.  They should have cast the nighttime janitor & saved some money.

Bullock, on the other hand, delivers a tender & wise presence.  Also, someone else could have been cast to save their cash.  Someone obscure but adequate would have done the job.

As my title suggests, the boy is on an adventure to discover.  His father played by Hanks is deceased, previously killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York City & the boy (obsessed, to say the least) finds a mysterious key, wishes to find out what it unlocks & proceeds to search for its meaning.

The film walks a fine line on the issue of 9/11.  The event has been exhausted in its retelling, over & over again through the years.  Using the topic can be seen as a low blow by a writer, director or producer; eliciting emotion in the cheapest & most guaranteed of ways.  But this film doesn’t over do it.  Mainly focusing on the child & other characters.  However; be not confused.  It is a film where 9/11 is the main background event.

As an American, it was very difficult watching this film.  9/11 was traumatizing, on a national level here, in a way that foreigners can only guess at, often accurately.  Many nations even envy the U.S. this event.  They envy the cohesion & unity it produced (even if temporarily) & the instant legends that were manufactured or birthed.  I stopped watching any media about the topic several years ago because it was becoming too maudlin to immerse myself in annually.

The film deals with yet another personal story, albeit in a fictional manner.  It’s sensitive to the scars that the attacks left on the American psyche, but this film pulls no strings.  The bottom line is that it blatantly uses 9/11 for its emotional value.  The journey is all about coming to terms with those emotional scars left on the characters & the deep loss that can never be fully cured.  Merely treated, lessening the pain.

I recommend this film for the strong of character & for those that have the wherewithal to explore this topic again.  It’s not a bad film, it’s not a good film & if you can muster enough patience to “be around” a child (& all the baggage that implies), go ahead & pick this film up for viewing.  Otherwise, let it lay.

If anything, the character interaction is excellent & I will see anything that contains Davis & von Sydow.  They’re just too wonderful to be missed, even if it’s a bad movie (which this is not).  So get your box of tissues ready & or watch this film while you’re in a bad mood.  It’ll even things out for you.


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