In the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.
The 2006 book was well-received by critics as a poignant and healing tale of a boy in search of answers about his father’s death. The movie that followed in 2011, however, received nearly unanimous poor reviews, though it was later nominated for an Oscar. Critics chastised the film for poor treatment of a potentially touching tale:
“There must be a more plausible story to be told about a boy who lost his father on 9/11. This plot is contrivance and folderol. The mysterious key, the silent old man and the magical tambourine are the stuff of fairy tales, and the notion of a boy walking all over New York is so preposterous we’re constantly aware of it as a storytelling device. The events of 9/11 have left indelible scars. They cannot be healed in such a simplistic way.” – Roger Ebert
“It will always be “too soon” for Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close, which processes the immense grief of a city and a family through a conceit so nauseatingly precious that it’s somehow both too literary and too sentimental, cloying yet aestheticized within an inch of its life. It’s 9/11 through the eyes of a caffeinated 9-year-old Harper’s contributor.” – The Onion’s AV Club
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a story worth telling, but it deserves better than the treacly and pretentious treatment director Stephen Daldry gives it.” – Rotten Tomatoes
“It’s a far better thing to remember “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” than to watch it. Looking back, much of what is irritating, precious and tiresome about the movie recedes and drops away, while all the movie’s virtues, which are considerable, rise to consciousness. There are good things here – just be prepared to blast for them.” - San Francisco Chronicle
Have you seen the movie or read the book? How do you think the movie holds up?
Check out the SevenPonds Media Library for more books, films, and photos to heal by.