This long-awaited tragedy/mystery is a bit of a downer right from the get-go. It centers around 11-year-old Oskar (Thomas Horn in his first role) who has serious problems dealing with what appears to be Asperger's, only to be intensified by the death of his father (Tom Hanks) in the 9/11 attack of the World Trade Center. The film is filled with flashbacks and voiceovers, as Oskar recalls the many happy days with the father he idolized.
His father has invented a game with the intention of helping Oskar break out of his shell, overcome his many phobias, and be forced to make contact with other people.
It centers around a fictitious sixth borough in New York City that has somehow disappeared. Father and son were playing the game until that fateful day. His father left a bunch of messages on the answering machine, as he tries in vain to reach Oskar and his wife (Sandra Bullock).
Cut to a year later. Oskar enters his father's room and discovers a key with the word "black" written on an envelope. This starts a quest through the five boroughs to discover the secret of the key by contacting hundreds of New Yorkers named Black.
The story is somewhat poignant and at times a big downer. To make matters worse, Oskar is not a very likeable young man, as many of the characteristics of Asperger’s get in his way when trying to connect with people.
Rhode Island's Viola Davis is the first person he contacts. Eventually, he connects with an old man who does not speak (Max Von Sydow).
Meanwhile, his suffering mother allows him the freedom to explore.
There are a couple of twists and turns leading to the key's significance, which you will probably not figure out. Joyce and I sat in the dark theatre after the credits, trying to put everything together and decide whether or not to recommend the movie. It did hold our attention for two hours and 10 minutes. The story was interesting and quite different from anything we had seen. The acting was good.
In spite of all that, there are some disturbing scenes. The sight of a body hurtling from the building (possibly Oskar's father?) was very disturbing. The "what ifs?" surrounding the telephone messages were tough to take. Add the sometimes unlikable actions and words of Oskar, even knowing his problems, and you have a movie that is not always pleasant to watch.
In spite of all that, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a movie that will hold your interest and lead to lively discussions.
Rated PG-13, with some profanity and some scenes that may disturb young and old.