Over a decade since tragedy hit New York City, filmmakers continue to make poignant films about the lives of those who were affected by the World Trade Center attack. Academy Award nominated nominee Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close tells the story of a young boy trying to make sense of a world without his father. Similar to Fox’s newest series Touch, starring Kiefer Sutherland, the lead character is smarter than your average boy. In this case, Oskar (Thomas Horn) may or may not have Asperger syndrome. He often confronts adults with a series of calculations worthy of someone more than twice his age. Yet, he’s prone to emotional outbursts when the slightest barrages of external sounds overload his senses.
The film introduces us to Oskar and his father Thomas Schell (Tom Hanks). The two share a special bond, they both have analytical minds and a thirst to problem solve. After the attack, Oskar is left with his mother Linda (Sandra Bullock) and grandmother. However, he still feels alone. Soon, Oskar discovers a key that may lead to a secret about his father. It’s the one thing that keeps him connected to the normalcy he lost on 9/11.
Due to the tragic events of the story, the first third of the film is especially somber. However, Oskar soon develops a relationship with a man known only as The Renter (Max von Sydow). It’s odd at first to see this bond form between a stranger and a child. However, it slowly relieves the tension of the movie allowing for bits of humor to seep in. The Renter can’t talk, while sometimes Oskar talks too much. Oskar also has the energy of youth, while The Renter is in his eighties. The disparity in character types and the evolving relationship adds just enough levity to let you breath as The Renter and Oskar teach one another about life perception.
The Blu-ray release captures the cacophony of sounds and images that often set Oskar off into emotional screaming fits. There are also four great featurettes that give you extra insight into the film.
Horn plays the role of Oskar brilliantly, both in narration and in numerous confrontations with adults. He carries the burden of adulthood on his face, while hiding the innocence of childhood. In the “Finding Oskar” featurette, you get to hear from Director Stephen Daldry and Horn’s costars. There is also a short documentary on Von Sydow by his son. “Dialogues with the Renter” explores Von Sydow’s silent performance and the strong bond he developed with Horn both on and off camera. The Blu-ray release contains the standard behind-the-scenes/making-of featurette as well as a retrospective on 9/11. “Ten Years Later” centers on one 9/11 victim’s photo and has been smartly added to this release.