Making the Grades
The horrific events of 9-11 have already been recounted in films like World Trade Center and United 93. But now Director Stephen Daldry offers an intimate look into the life of one of those left behind—nine-year-old Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn).
Even before the “worst day ever”, Oskar struggled with anxiety, though medical examinations failed to confirm a diagnosis. But since his father (Tom Hanks) died in the Towers, Oskar’s odd behaviors have increased. And try as she might, his mother (Sandra Bullock) who is dealing with her own grief, isn’t able to connect with her son.
Months after the tragedy, Oskar goes into his father’s clothes closet where he discovers a key hidden inside a blue vase. Convinced that finding the lock the key fits will bring him closer to his dad, Oskar sets out on a reconnaissance-like mission. Mapping out the locations of people with the last name Black (the surname he found on the envelope that held the key), he transverses every New York City borough hoping someone will have a clue.
Oskar’s wild rants, erratic behaviors and rude interactions don’t always make him a likable character. But they may make him more believable considering what he has experienced. While learning to control these parts of his personality is difficult, Oskar’s compassion for others increases dramatically as he comes to recognize the losses and difficulties endured by so many people.
The depiction of the burning Towers, a falling office worker, self-mutilation and the discussion of death make this film a heavy watch. However an incredible performance by newcomer Thomas Horn and the portrayal of resilient New Yorkers makes Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close a film that helps restore one’s faith in humanity and man’s ability to survive.
Release Date: 25 December 2011 Limited (Opens wide January 20, 2012)
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
The image of the falling man is one of the most famous pictures of the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Why does Oskar resort to self-mutilation? Why do some individuals use this as a coping mechanism?
How does Oskar’s mother balance her fears and grief with her desire for her son to succeed? How do people in this story deal with grief and disappointment? Before his death, what does Oskar’s father do to help his son become more self-confident and capable?