Monday, January 23, 2012

"Extremely" Good Movie (And Book)

A few years ago, I read the book Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I know I reviewed it here on this blog somewhere, but I can't find that post.  If I do, I'll come back and add a link.  Anyway....I loved the book.  It was deeply moving and yet at times quite funny.  It is written from the perspective of eleven year old Oskar Schell, an intelligent, yet socially awkward boy grieving the loss of his father on 9/11.  The book is written in a quirky way, often going off on tangents to explore Oskar's latest invention (like a suit made out of bird seed, so birds could pick him up allowing him to fly).

Oskar lives in New York City with his mother, while his paternal grandmother lives across the street.  She rents a room in her apartment to an older gentlemen known only as "The Renter."  Nearly a year after his father dies, Oskar finally goes into his dad's closet.  While there, he knocks over a blue vase which shatters on the floor.  As Oskar leans down to pick up the mess, he notices a strange key. It was inside a small envelope labeled "Black".  Oskar decides he must find the lock that fits this key.  He just knows that if he can find the lock, he will be able to make sense of his father's death and will still be able to feel close and connected to him.  He soon devises a plan-- he decides to visit every single person in New York City with the last name "Black" hoping someone will know about the key.  On his journey he meets many interesting people, each with their own story to tell.  Oskar also crosses paths with The Renter, who ends up joining Oskar on his quest.  At this point in the book, The Renter takes over the narration and shares his own story with the reader-- a sad story that shows the connection between Oskar and himself.  In the end, the perspective shifts back to Oskar as he finishes his quest for the lost key, and comes to terms with his father's death knowing it will never make sense.

Yesterday I met up with my friend Jacquelyn (who originally loaned me the book) so we could see how such a complex and unique novel could translate onto the big screen.  Usually, I like the book better, but in this case I can't say that.  I can't say I liked the film better either.  I can only say I liked both equally.  I thought the movie was breathtaking.  The little boy who portrayed Oskar did a phenomenal job with such a difficult character.  And of course Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock did a great job playing Oskar's parents.  The cinematography was also beautiful capturing the different burrows of New York City perfectly as Oskar makes his journey.

One thing I wasn't prepared for was how well I identified in the grief process with little Oskar.  I read the book when my mom was still alive, so I didn't have that connection to him when I read the book.  But with the movie, I felt his pain as intensely as my own.  I wanted to reach out and hug him and say, "I get it!"  When Oskar enters his father's closet and sees all his clothes still hanging, he grabs hold of a shirt, leans in and rubs his face on the sleeve, trying to smell his father's scent.  I have stood in my mother's closet and done the same exact thing.  Like I was looking for some way to feel close to her again. Maybe that's one reason why I liked it so much. While some might consider it too sappy or sentimental, I enjoyed it, and would highly recommend seeing the film.

PS-- Check our my friend Sue's blog.  She also reviewed the movie today!


Maria Rose said...

How weird that you both reviewed the movie today!Great minds think alike.

Susan said...

Emily, I downloaded the book to my Kindle already this week-end. I've just barely started it but I'm loving it already. I'm fascinated with that little boy's mind!

Rachel said...

I have so very much wanted to see that movie since I saw the first preview! Now I think I may have to read the book!

Victoria said...

I must read the book now before I see the movie! Thank you!