Those left behind

(L-r) Thomas Horn as Oskar and Tom Hanks as Oskar's father in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
(L-r) Thomas Horn as Oskar and Tom Hanks as Oskar's father in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud (12A)

Director: Stephen Daldry.

Thomas Horne with Max von Sydow.

Thomas Horne with Max von Sydow.

Starring: Tom Hanks, Thomas Horne, Sandra Bullock, Max von Sydow, John Goodman, Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright.

Running time: 2hrs 9 mins.

FOR a film that uses 9/11 as part of its theme, Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud doesn’t rely on crass sentimentality to tells its story.

Indeed, the horrors of 2001 give the story impetus while not dominating like Banquot’s ghost and interfering unnecessarily with the development of the plot.

Young Oscar (Horne) is a child who is devoted to his dad (Hanks).

In return, the father dotes on his son, but is aware that Oscar is not like other children — at one point he has been tested for Asperger’s syndrome.

Incredibly neurotic, the child’s father makes up games to try and coax the boy out of his malaise.

He tells the boy there was once six areas of New York and one floated away. He charges the lad to find clues as to the former existence of the missing section to keep his mind busy.

Then, one morning, his dad, a jeweller, goes off to work.

He has a meeting at one of the companies in the World Trade Centre: he doesn’t come back.

The child is distraught and builds a secret shrine to his father. Then, one day while rooting around in his dad’s closet, he accidentally breaks a vase.

Inside is an envelope with the name Black written on it and containing a key. Oscar presumes that his father has set up one last adventure for him to undertake and he sets out to find the lock which the key fits.

Using phone books, he catalogues every person in New York city with the name Black and resolves to visit them (he has worked out that it will take three years).

He enlists the help of the strange, silent man (Sydow) who rents a room from his gran and the adventure begins. This is a raw, highly-emotional film which many will shed a few tears at.

But, let’s be clear, Horne is no Macauley Culkin (although the film poster has the lad in a pose disturbingly similar to Home Alone) and this is no manipulative tear-jerker like My Girl.

This is a serious attempt to explore how a young boy copes with the loss of a loved one. For young Horne’s performance alone this film would earn five stars — especially since this is his acting debut — as he more than holds his own with seasoned pros.

If this lad goes on to star in cutsie comedies, I’ll be severely disappointed.

Rating: 5/5