Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Year: 2011
Director: Stephen Daldry
Writer: Eric Roth, Jonathan Safran Foer
Genre: Drama

I never read the book which the film is adapted from. I've wanted to for years but just have never gotten around to it. I've heard from people who read the book that this film really destroys the powerful narrative of the novel. Because I've not read it I was at least able to view the film without a bias. However, that didn't make me like it.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close had the chance to be something quite special. Instead, it imploded on itself due to the highly unlikable main character. I understand that the boy Oscar is supposed to have Aspergers and that explains a bunch of his behavior. As I went in without knowing that though I could assume something was meant to be up, but that he was just a precious little ball of nerdiness. There's nothing wrong with that though, as I love nerds. In a way the main boy in Hugo was also a nerd because of his scientific and technical mind. But Oscar was not cute or lovable or wonderful. He was annoying.

All children have the ability to be annoying, not just ones with Aspergers. Tons of them are just madness and in a lot of ways these days when a child "acts out" or is "different" it seems they get medicated for something which may be nothing other than their personality. Anyway, that's obviously not the point here. I don't know much of anything about Oscar's condition so I can't pretend to tell whether he really showed all the signs. Probably so. Either way, my point is you can be a wild little child with highly unusual and interesting thoughts and be likeable and wonderful. I just didn't feel that way toward him whatsoever.

In the film it felt like he didn't have enough of a character. There were things ABOUT him that seemed to mean to make us care. Like his tambourine which he would shake to calm himself down. That's a lovely trait but it just felt globbed onto the character, not something actually special or wonderful about him. There were a lot of things that felt like they were simply placed around him to try to make a character.

Anyway, with the narrative very tightly focused on this child's attempting to deal with the trauma of 9/11 I was forced to endure his not-at-all charming antics. I couldn't stand him. It made the whole movie feel overplayed and trite, like a cornball TV movie. Also, I am not sure this child could really act. He was good at memorizing lines I guess and good at YELLING but that doesn't make someone a good actor. Oh well, he's young and had the guts to take a huge role. Props to him.

So yeah, there are some movies with detestable characters but stories that still wrap you right up into it all. I could never get past that point with Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close because the narrative just wasn't my cup of tea.

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