Mook Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Written by Jonathan Safran Foer

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer, book review, mookology, 9/11, World Trade Center


For the past few years, I have been hearing the name Jonathan Safran Foer associated with praise and a good read.  Both Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close held permanent spots on my “to-read” list, but considering the arrival of the movie I decided to go ahead with EL&IC solely based on Mook purposes.  The construction of the book is complex, beginning with the narration of the inventive, inspirational and utterly depressed Oskar Schell , which then leads into intertwining storylines and narrators.
The use of imagery through photographs is wonderful in this story.  It adds reality to the characters.  When I first approached EL&IC, I was regarding it as a 9/11 novel and, although the presence of 9/11 is grounded within Oskar’s story, there is more to it than that.  The loss involved with our homeland tragedy is paralleled with the story of Oskar’s grandparents and the bombing of Dresden in WWII (a comparison which I found fantastic.)  Loss, love, and soul searching is heavily embedded in this novel. Everyone is mourning someone and searching for something.

Although Oskar is regarded as the main character of the novel, I felt a deep connection with the story of his grandparents, even when it was confusing at times.  I thought this worked well for the story, considering Oskar does not have any relationships with other kids his age and really only relates to the many, many adults he meets throughout his journey.

After reading EL&IC  I was curious how it would be portrayed on film.  It is, by no means, a clearly laid-out novel and there are things that may be too complex for a motion picture to convey.  The depth and structure which Foer provides is whimsical and basically flawless for what he wants you to take away from reading. Regardless, it is a wonderful story.

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” – Directed by Stephen Daldry

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, movie, review, mookology, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Horn, 9/11


Going into the film, I had a few reservations in my expectations.  The first was that, as you read in my book review, the novel seemed too complex to translate flawlessly to the screen.  There were going to be changes, I just wasn’t sure if I would like them.  The next reservation I had regarded Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock portrayed in all advertisements as main characters.   Although Oskar’s parents do play an important role in the novel, they were supporting characters in every aspect and we never heard either of their perspectives in the book.

As expected, the film had some very distinct changes from the book, some which I felt unnecessary.  It was strange: all of the pieces from the novel were there, they just put them together in a different way. For example, the choice for Oskar’s mom to have figured out his journey herself rather than have all of the Black’s call her after Oskar’s visit was kind of unneeded.    Why make a change to something that made sense in the novel?  The decision to not delve into detail with the grandparents was something I expected, but why leave us with nothing? We get relatively no understanding of their relationship besides the fact that Oskar’s Grandfather has consistently left his Grandmother over the course of many years.   This could have been explained some more, in some way.

I must commend Thomas Horn for his exceptional portrayal of Oskar Schell.  I actually felt more emotionally connected to Oskar’s anxiety in the film than in the book–something that almost never happens.  The kid is incredible. The first time we really see him excel at this role is when Oskar explains things that make him “panicky” while setting off to Fort Green. Horn shone spectacularly when he told Oskar’s story to his Grandfather and I actually felt my chest heaving during Oskar’s tantrum at the end of the movie. Sandra Bullock was, of course, spot on and amazing as Oskar’s mother and I truly felt their struggle.  The story is, after all, about losing someone in one of the most devastating ways.

This is one of those instances where I felt reading the novel prior to seeing the film caused it to fall flat.  While the acting was superb and the story was there, it just didn’t develop the way I expected it to. For this reason, I found it to be kind of unsuccessful as a mook, but a really fantastic movie that a lot of people will enjoy watching. It is heart wrenching and phenomenal, but it just fell slightly short on mook standards.

Mook Rating – ★★★


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