Movie: Extremely loud and incredibily close
Direction: Stephen Daldry
Cast: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock
Rating: ** 1/2
It is not often that a child performer manages to hold his own in the company of Oscar-honoured actors. But such is the case with first-time actor Thomas Horn who plays a precocious young New Yorker attempting to come to terms with his father's death in the 9/11 terror attacks.
Working from an all-too-earnest adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 bestseller, director Daldry (The Reader) zeroes in on the boy who is traumatised by the tragedy.
After grappling with guilt (he has withheld his dad's recorded voicemails of that ill-fated morning) for almost a year, the kid embarks on a mission impossible. He treks across the city to search for the lock which fits a key his father (Hanks) left behind.
Uneven at best, it's the shamelessly manipulative resolution involving the somewhat aloof mother (Bullock) that makes the purported life lesson such a hokum experience. In this scheme of things, heartstrings are tugged, eyes will no doubt moisten.
Utilising far too many flashbacks and arty camera angles, the screenplay grapples rather heavy-handedly with the book's big themes: grief, despair and resilience of the families of the victims.
Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are bankably competent. Newcomer Thomas Horn is impressive in a difficult role. The star turn, however, is by Max von Sydow. The 81-year-old Swedish legend conveys the pain and compassion of the grandfather without uttering a single word.
Sturdily crafted, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is worth wandering into but only for want of a better alternative.