A boy (played by Thomas Horn) keeps his connection alive with his father (played by Tom Hanks) who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks.  “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” starts with Hanks already dead; and the movie is played out in a non-linear way so that we get glimpses of how great Hanks is as a father, and how close he is with Horn, a boy who is very intelligent but has many phobias.  Hanks uses a game of leaving his son clues to find facts or objects all over Manhattan so that Horn will have to leave the safety of his home and experience more of what the world has to offer.  It is the skills Horn learns in these games that he uses to try to solve the mystery of a key that he finds in the closet of his dead father one year after the 9/11 attacks.  With only one clue — the word “Black” written on the envelope in which the key was found — Horn sets off on an adventure all over NYC (I have to state that NYC has 5 boroughs, and it doesn’t mean just Manhattan, for those of you not from here) that he hopes will bring him closer to his father, but unwittingly takes him further away emotionally from his mother (played by Sandra Bullock).

Bullock and Horn give great performances in this movie, with more kudos given to Horn due to the great talent he shows at such a young age.  My most memorable, movie moment of “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is the scene when Horn tells Bullock that he wishes she was in the building that collapsed instead of his father.  Horn, after many painful seconds of seeing Bullock bravely handling the pain of what he had just told her, apologizes to Bullock and says he didn’t mean what he said.   Bullock quietly says, “Yes, you did.”

This movie starts off slow; and Horn has many traits that I think many viewers will find annoying.  But give it a chance, and you will slowly connect to the main characters very deeply until that very rare thing in movies happens: the characters become real in your mind.

I found Horn’s numerous fears to be understandable.  Life has many dangers and uncertainties.  Thinking too much of the negative aspects of living can paralyze you and make you want to stay home where it’s safe and familiar —  I know, I’ve been there.  But if you do that, then you’ll never grow spiritually; and you’d only be surviving instead of living.  For every bad thing in life, there is a good thing.  It’s worth the risk.   And so, I take a deep breath, prepare for the worst and hope for the best, grab my keys, and head outside.

M

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