By Kyle | December 23, 2011
For once, I want to associate myself with my colleague Lou Lumenick’s remarks, in this case on the vile and putrid film “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” I walked out of the movie in more or less of a cold fury and I still think some critics and wets might fall for this shameless work — this misappropriation and embezzlement of 9/11 for purposes of self-gratification — but I’m glad that at least some (most?) have seen through it. (Update: half of critics hate it. Props.)
The film amounts to a celebration thrown by author Jonathan Safran Foer for an unbelievably obnoxious little genius meant to be a sweetly heartbreaking charmer. Instead of being the cause of daily horsewhippings with barbed wire as you would expect (and hope), the kid’s precocity is a source of wonderment to everyone around him (including an assortment of colorful minority peoples who are enchanted by his company as he goes around the city introducing himself, though occasionally white people are rude to him). The Islamofascist attacks of 9/11, which killed the kid’s father (Tom Hanks), are a sort of pickaxe Foer uses for attacking the tear ducts. I hated the kid and his nonstop efforts to convince us of his brilliance from the very beginning of the movie (even though we’re supposed to feel sorry for him) and my opinion of him sharply declined thereafter.
Is that the most obnoxious aspect of the movie? Perhaps not. What’s additionally galling is that the kid really has nothing to do with 9/11, which barely interests the author except as a means for ginning up interest in and sympathy for his little hero. 9/11 is cannily deployed to bestow a completely unearned gravity on this twee creation.
And though my America-last colleague Lou would be unlikely to take notice of this aspect of the film, how about this for an omission: There is no mention of the savages who ruthlessly and with perfect internal logic carried out this act of mass murder. The events of 9/11 are treated as just a random tragedy, like an earthquake or a lightning strike, instead of the result of meticulous evil planning by sworn foes of the United States of America and everything it stands for. There are a couple of lines of dialogue along the lines of, “Who would fly a plane into the building? What an odd thing to have happened.” The longer 9/11 recedes into memory the more pronounced will become this cultural shrug, this willful blindness to basic facts. Perhaps future generations will be unclear about who, exactly, carried out 9/11, and why. Maybe it was just a big misunderstanding? Maybe it was just some crazy kids on a joyride? Maybe it was a freak accident? Surely if whoever those mysterious people who carried out 9/11 knew about our cuddly little Brooklyn geniuses they’d call us up and ask if they could join our non-denominational international faith group and the world would be healed?