Suffer can be extremely loud & incredibly close, as help!

Last night I watched the Oscar Best Film nominated Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, wich I was really excited about and deep inside my soul I was disappointed. I agree that no movie has ever been able to provide a catharsis for the Holocaust, and I suspect none will ever be able to provide one for 9/11 as well. Such subjects overwhelm art. The artist’s usual tactic is to center on individuals whose lives are a rebuke to the tragedy. They sidestep the actual event and focus on a parallel event that ends happily, giving us a sentimental reason to find consolation. I applaud them for their attempts and sometimes the movies cannot fill the blankets and bring us the answers we desperately seek, but if they at least serves as a stimuly to reflection its worthwhile in my point of view.

The central tension of the movie lies in the hope, for the sake of this odd child, that in the end he’ll choose love over fear! This is a story of that choice, thrust upon the characters by inconsolable grief. The catch of the title is that it is tragedy that is loud and close, but the people who can share and relieve grief are all too quiet and far away. It’s an intimate story tightly centered upon one family, but one that links itself to tragedies past and to other personal losses through Oskar’s surreal encounters with the city’s residents named Black. It’s in these meetings, when Oskar reforges the bond of shared experience, that the movie becomes remarkably consoling.

It tells the story of an 11-year-old boy named Oskar Schell, who is played by the gifted and very well cast Thomas Horn. His father was killed in 9/11. Indeed, intensely scrutinizing videos of bodies falling from one of the towers, Oskar fancies he can actually identify him. We see a lot of Thomas, his father, in flashbacks, and he is played by Tom Hanks. As a father, Thomas was a paragon, spending countless quality hours with Oskar and involving the bright kid in ingenious mind games. Perhaps he suspected what Oskar now tells us about himself: He may have Asperger’s syndrome, a condition affecting those who are very intelligent but lack ordinary social skills. For a kid like that, driven to complete tasks he has set for himself, his dad’s challenges are compelling.

We don’t follow him on every visit, but the first one makes a big impression. He knocks on the door of Viola Davis’ character, who invites him in, hears his story and tries to help him. Oskar’s social skills don’t extend to noticing that Abby is in the middle of a marital crisis with her husband. Davis and her husband are so good here, in roles that work mostly by implication, that Oskar’s quest starts off on the right foot emotionally.

What do we learn during this quest? That more than 4,000 may have died in the 9/11 terrorism, but millions more still live? That those named Black form a cross-section of the metropolis? That life goes on? Oskar is not entirely alone. He is seen off by his building’s doorman, and soon he makes a new friend. This very old man, known only as the Renter, has moved in with Oskar’s grandmother. He cannot or will not speak, communicating only with written notes, but he is a tall and reassuring companion.  You will discover if the key unlocks anything, or if the search for its lock is itself the purpose.

Well, in my humble opinion its a must-see movie, I dropped some tears and took me hours to stop thinking about this unmeasurable catastrophes that can hit one person, a city, a country, humanity, and how hard can it be, how impossible can it be to deal with the feelings for the survivors. I was affected when the Twin Towers were attacked, I felt terribly sorry for those who died, but somehow I was just being human, suffering for the ones who died and lost their loved ones, living thousands of miles away from me and my reality. For me, as an outsider, the answer is simple, it happened because there are criminals, people who do not respect life, maniacs. But for those directly affected, it’s not a plausible answer, for a child it does not fit as well. We look for answers all the time and when it’s not possible to get one to bring us comfort it’s just a matter of choice: fear or love. Hope we can always choose love over fear. Fear brings the worst in humans.

Wish you all guys a great week.

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