Thomas Horn, who plays the excitable Oskar in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, “is an attractively real-looking boy with an impish smile and a natural-feeling directness, and he holds his own just fine, even against a scene-stealer like Max von Sydow,” says N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis. “But it’s an impossible role in an impossible movie that has no reason for being other than as another pop-culture palliative for a trauma it can’t bear to face.
“In truth, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close isn’t about Sept. 11. It’s about the impulse to drain that day of its specificity and turn it into yet another wellspring of generic emotions: sadness, loneliness, happiness. This is how kitsch works. It exploits familiar images, be they puppies or babies — or, as in the case of this movie, the twin towers — and tries to make us feel good, even virtuous, simply about feeling. And, yes, you may cry, but when tears are milked as they are here, the truer response should be rage.”