I typed some rambling reactions the day after seeing Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close on the night of December 8th. I had to wait for the embargo date to run my review, but I didn’t post several thoughts because I didn’t want to spoil. But the film has been out for almost two weeks now so here are portions that I wrote on 12.9. I’m not going to review the basics so there’s no point reading this if you haven’t seen the film. Those who haven’t are advised that SPOILERS are contained herein:

Reaction #1: “I loved the shrugging of the shoulders bit shared by Tom Hanks and Max Von Sydow. I didn’t think that Von Sydow was that perfect or brilliant or (like I’ve been hearing) a drop-dead winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar but he’s obviously quite good, given what was on the page.”

Reaction #2: “I felt that Hanks’ character was presented as almost too supportive, too cheery, too loving, too physically demonstrative ….there seemed to be this mandate that the man had NOTHING BUT JOYOUS ALPHA LOVE pouring out of him each & every waking second. We all know that about Hanks (i.e., he’s very kind and likable) but it would’ve added to the film, I feel, if we could have seen him do something else or radiate something else besides LOVE and GAMES and HUGS all the friggin’ time…God!”

Reaction #3: “I loved the Jeffrey Wright scene in Act 3 because it’s one of the very few in which Thomas Horn‘s Oskar isn’t beating everyone to death with his hyper, ultra-urgent Asperger’s personality. It’s so welcome when the calm and inquisitive Wright settles Oskar and the whole movie down with exquisite conveyances of what and who this man is — his humanity, his sensitivity, his ordinary-ness, his decency.”

Reaction #4: “The gentle make-out affection scene between Wright and Viola Davis at the end…is that supposed to be happening after Oskar’s Sunday night visit to Wright? As in ‘they got back together’? He’s her ex-husband, she says earlier in the film. And he’s moving out when we first meet Viola. So they got back together because of Oskar’s visit? Or the affection scene was a flashback?”

Reaction #5: “And I’m a little confused as to why Viola blew Oskar off the first time he visited. Yes, she was feeling gloomy and depressed and didn’t want to deal with a kid looking for a lock that might fit a key, etc. But he’s a kid and he came for a reason and…she couldn’t be bothered because she was breaking up with her husband? Okay, whatever. Seems dismissive. And why did Oskar want to hug her exactly? That was odd.”

Reaction #6: “And I want to make sure I have the actions of Sandra Bullock‘s mom character straight in my head. Unknown to Oskar the whole time, she went out and did investigative or preparational spade work on his behalf, telling all the various Blacks that he’d be visiting them soon, etc.? And she kept this a secret because she wanted him to feel as if he was doing this all on his own, to give him a sense of manly responsibility and discovery? It seems strange. She tells him at the end anyway so….why did she help him covertly?”

Reaction #7: “Oskar has issues with his mom. He wishes she had died on 9.11 instead of Hanks, he tells her, and she tells him she agrees — she wishes that too. But why the hell does he decide that she shouldn’t hear the phone messages? That struck me as selfish and rather cruel. People who’ve lost someone always want to know. They want to know about the departed’s last moments of life, and how they were at the end and how it happened. They always want remnants, even if they hurt. Did Oskar ever play the messages for her?

Reaction #8: “I wanted Oskar to have a slightly older or slightly younger non-Aspergers brother who could calm things down and speak for the audience a little bit by saying every so often, ‘Whoa, okay… wait a minute. Let’s take things down a notch.’ A voice of annoyance and average reason and normality. A voice that would occasionally say, ‘Will you take five minutes and shut the fuck up, Oskar? Can you at least do this for two minutes? Finding the lock for the key is something you have to do, I get that, I feel it as much as you do, he was my dad too…but your hammer-driving-a-nail-into-wood personality is driving me up the fucking wall!’

Reaction #9: “Eric Roth was hired to make the book work in cinematic form and to lend his customary eloquence and taste — his sense of what’s right and true. But he had to adapt the book. And he had to run with the Oskar character as created. I get that, and as far as I can tell he did a fine job. But how come none of the book reviews that I’ve read this morning mention Aspergers? They all say he’s incredibly bright and earnest but…”

Reaction #10: “I have two questions about the death of Hanks’ character. One, he’s on the phone in message #6 saying ‘Are you there? Are you there?’ and then bang…Oskar looks at the TV and the South Tower is collapsing. So obviously he went down with the building. But we see him free-falling also. A closeup, a shot of a man’s body falling, and the final shot of Hanks falling right into the camera from above. This is supposed to be a vision in Oskar’s head, but Oskar knew (after he listened to the messages) that his dad went down with the building so how or why would he think otherwise? Doesn’t make sense.”

Reaction #11: “As the film begins there’s a close-up representation of how it was for Hanks as he fell. It looks like this footage was shot in a studio with a really big fan making his clothes ripple. But Hanks’ character was travelling about 150 mph — the wind-shear factor would have been a lot more severe.”