Movie Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

I’d like to start this post off with a little disclaimer:  I am in no way a professional movie critic, however, I am an avid movie-goer.  These are purely my personal opinions.

I went to see Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close earlier this week.  I went to the very first showing of the morning in hopes that if I cried like a baby, there wouldn’t be as many people to witness my extreme emotions.

I want to give you a little bit of my background going into the movie.  I have not read the book by Jonathan Safran Foer so I did not have any pre-conceived notions as to how this movie should go.  I am the mother of a child with autism (13) and I’m active in the on-line community. Because of this, I was very aware that many parents were upset by a review that came out about the movie and the main character who is said to “possibly” have Asperger’s Syndrome (an autism spectrum disorder).

Brief Synopsis:  Oskar Schell is an 11 year old boy whose father was killed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11.  Over a year after his father’s death he finds a key, hidden in a blue vase in his father’s closet.  This launches him into a remarkable search to find out what the key opens.

Overall, I really liked this movie.  There were times that I wondered where exactly Oskar’s search was going to lead and I was hoping that the movie would not end leaving me with the feeling “What in the heck was this movie about?”  As quickly as I thought that, the movie took a turn and all of my questions were answered.  I didn’t particularly like the way some of the 9/11 events were remembered, but I think that is a topic that will always evoke raw emotions from individuals who lived through those horrific events.

I was extremely impressed by the newcomer, Thomas Horn, who plays Oskar.  I watched his actions and mannerisms closely.  I’ve seen so many movies and TV shows where individuals with varying degrees of autism are portrayed and I’ve cringed at the actors/actresses attempts to capture the nuances associated with autism.  Watching Thomas Horn, I truly believed that he had Asperger’s. I saw so much of both of my girls’ actions and mannerisms in his.  Maybe it was because of this that I felt so “at home” in the movie.  Please realize, this is my personal opinion.  Another parent of an individual with autism could possibly hate Horn’s portrayal of an individual with Asperger’s. You might ask “Why is that?”  My answer is this: Although many people with autism share common characteristics and mannerisms, they are all so individually different.  You only have to spend 5 minutes on Twitter to see how passionate one parent of someone with autism can be about a particular issue and how the very next parent can be just as passionate on the extreme opposite side of the same issue.

I’m glad that I went to see the movie and plan on going back to see it with my husband.  I would love for other family and friends to see it to gain a deeper understanding of the profound sensory issues that both of my girls struggle with on a daily basis.

I will be posting a separate post about movie specifics and my feelings about Oskar’s mother who was portrayed by Sandra Bullock.  If you have not seen the movie, do NOT read that post.  I will mark it with *Spoiler Alert*.  These are things that I would NOT have wanted to know prior to seeing the movie, but would love to share those thoughts and feelings with those of you who have seen the movie.

Have you seen the movie?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Please leave a comment below.

Make it a great one!

JuJu

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13 thoughts on “Movie Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

  1. I haven’t seen the movie yet but hope to in February. Your post gives me an awareness about the character I wouldn’t have had and I appreciate that! I won’t read the spoiler alert post, but will come back after I’ve seen it.

    Just want you to know I LOVE your blog! I discovered it through Project Life and feel like I have a new friend. (I also follow your sister’s blog) It’s pretty awesome when you find a blogger you wish you be friends with!!!

    • Thank you so much Karen! I’m so humbled by your comments & I know exactly what you mean about reading someone’s blog & thinking you would make great friends! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the movie after you see it! Blessings!
      Julie

  2. Julie,
    I just started reading this book last weekend. I will wait until the movie comes out on DVD because I am not sure that I can handle it in a theater. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Amanda

  3. I’m curious to know why the autism community was upset by the review that speculates the boy is Aspie? I’ve been interested in seeing the movie, because the boy seemed quite Aspie in the preview. I’m not sure I can make it through much of the other subject matter without sobbing, though.

    • Hi there! The community was not upset that there was speculation that Oskar was an Aspie. The problem was with a certain reviewer who wrote a scathing review of Horn’s portrayal as an Aspie. He wrote how annoying it was to watch a kid attempt to be autistic for 2 hrs & then proceeded to make a comment along the lines of “I make allowances for autistics in real life, but I shouldn’t put up with in a movie.” (Not the exact wording, but I can’t find the review at the moment.)

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      Julie

  4. More irritating than touching, healing or any of the positive things one would guess such a story and cast would produce. This was just a totally manipulative film that tries so hard to be emotional that it almost strains itself and its leading “actor”, Thomas Horn who is probably one of the most annoying kids I have seen on-screen in awhile. Good review Julie.

    • I know many people who share your feelings! I had a lot of people ask me thoughts since I have an older child on the autism spectrum & that is why I wrote a review. I have not read many other reviews from either individuals w/autism or parents of individuals with autism. I’d love to know their thoughts as well.

      Thanks so much for your insight!

  5. Due to an awkward background of foster-care, no one, besides my older twin brother and I, know a lot about what I was like before I was five, when I moved to my current foster-home. Thus, my Asperger’s diagnosis came late. I’ve only been diagnosed this Easter(I’m now 17).
    However, the “screening process” began in February, around the time that this movie came to Irish cinemas. Thus, this movie helped make the screening process a lot easier, and for that I’m thankful.
    Although he finds it a lot easier to talk to strangers than I do (example given: I usually walk away quickly when I see one of my next-door neighbours so I won’t have to talk to them) and although he has a best friend (I don’t have meaningful relationships with anyone my age, with the exception of my twin who spends a lot more time hanging out with his own friends and likes to mock me for being a “loner” with “no life”-I haven’t told him about my Asperger’s), Oskar has a lot of similar characteristics to me. He HATES loud noises (I have the additional hatred of bright light), he opens and closes the same door again and again (I found it quite surprising that this, which is one of my quirks, was represented onscreen), he loves videogames (was seen playing the Gameboy Color with the Minx in the school yard), he finds it a lot easier to relate to one parent than the other (In my case, I relate to my foster-mother more than my foster-father), he has tantrums, he has a hard time lying, he’s usually honest to the point of coming off as rude (such as when he told his mother that he wishes it was her in the building instead of Thomas), he can go on and on about something when the person he’s talking to has little interest in what he’s saying (such as when he tells Aby Black all about the elephants when she’s upset about her arguement with William), he paces and he carries a tambourine to soothe himself (I listen to my 3DS music player whenever I leave the house, always on the exact same song and sometimes I bring a stick around with me, as it reminds me of Harry Potter which I love). I thought the portrayal was pitch-perfect. I’ve seen other NTs act as a character with Asperger’s and get it all wrong (notably Sugar Motta from Glee) but Horn is fantastic, which is surprising seeing as his only previous acting experience was as the Old Grasshopper in his school play, a version of James and the Giant Peach. I watched this movie a lot when I was going through my screening process, once in the cinema and three and a quarter more times on the internet. As I have typed earlier in this comment, the movie helped comfort me and it helped me come to terms with my own Asperger’s. I’ll hopefully be getting the “Extremely Loud” Blu-Ray on Friday. Lovely review, by the way.

  6. Also, that paraphrased comment where the critic finds it bad enough that he has to “make allowances for autistic people” in real life, let alone watch a 2hr movie about one is upsetting although it does reflect the mentality of a lot of NTs.

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