Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


For starters, this is a terrible title. When people are talking about your film, you don’t want them to worry about looking foolish by getting it wrong. Which modifier goes with which verb? Oh, well, I’m not sure, and I really can’t be bothered.

Oskar is a 12-or-so-year-old boy who resides in Manhattan and on the extremely (or is it incredibly?) smart side of the autistic spectrum. He is also clearly obsessive-compulsive, insisting on measuring time to the second and distance to the inch. He is afraid of just about everything. And verbal? Lord, is he ever verbal. Incredibly (or is it extremely?) verbal. Running-off-at-the-mouth verbal and, before long, annoyingly verbal. Words pour out of his mouth, many of them not all that interesting. He is narcissistic, intentionally cruel … and his dad died a year ago in the collapse of the World Trade Center. Well, now don’t I feel like an unsympathetic fool?

Actually, no. Oh, I do feel sympathy for him. How horrible it must be to lose your beloved father when you’re that age. I can understand a certain amount of lashing out, a certain amount of denial, an existential wail concerning the unfairness of life. But he’s still a little shit. He finds a key his father has hidden away and sets out on a quest to find out what it opens. That drives the rest of the story almost to the end. And almost every inch of the journey made me feel manipulated. There are moving scenes—how could you make a story about 9/11 and not have some moving scenes? But all in all, I was rather incredibly (or was it amazingly?) unmoved.

I’ve been going back in my mind over 9/11 movies, of which we don’t have enough to yet be called a genre, but enough to look over a few. I see from my review of World Trade Center that I liked it a lot, but somehow my memory of it isn’t so good. The Guys I still recall as heartfelt, and small. United 93 is a masterpiece, but we never really get to the WTC itself. September 11 is an anthology of 11 11-minute films by 11 directors. As you’d expect, some segments are good and some aren’t. Looking at these (and I really can’t recall any other dramas about 9/11), I can see that the quality overall is high, and that this one is the least moving of them all. I find it inexplicable that this one was nominated for Best Picture of 2011. Nobody has yet made the Great 9/11 Film. It could be that no one will make it for a long time.