I’m starting to think that critically acclaimed director Stephen Daldry is as about as brilliant as flat Irn-Bru (from a plastic bottle). In Billy Elliot, a ten year old solved the miners’ strike and stopped Thatcher’s rape of the North by dancing provocatively in front of a bunch of angry geordies. And, in his new film, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a ten year old boy called Oskar effectively deals with Jihadism by embarking on the most stylized piece of generic porridge since ‘Stylish Porridge – The Generic Musical’.

Oskar’s dad (a sadly balding Tom Hanks) is unlucky enough to be at the World Trade Center on the 11th of September 2001. After he dies, his annoying son (who’s so quirky you’d like to punch him in the corduroys until he goes down and passers-by drag you off his bloodied, hipster, ten year old corpse) discovers a key and decides that he must find the lock for it. Because this is what his father would want. Obviously. Apparently. And so begins the most pointless, boring quest since…I don’t even know what since, since it was so brilliantly, fantastically, pointlessly pointless and boring and shit.

Parts of the film are good: Max von Sydow, as The Renter, deserved an Oscar for dressing all in black with his big sad face that I want to feed and cuddle and make a nest for in my kitchen. Its main flaw, however, apart from a plot that makes me want to buy some sort of hunting rifle, is its main character, and the arrogantmonkeyboy-child who plays him.

Looking back through my notes, I’m aware that I’ve scribbled ‘Somebody needs to strangle Oskar’ six times. And he’s on the screen for two whole hours. Quite frankly, he needs a beating. And since his mum, Sandra Bullock, is too busy grieving, I’m quite happy to volunteer. I’ll even do the jail-time for it.

If you have an infuriating rage building up inside you, which is sure to manifest itself against quirky, overly-emotional American children, then please, for the love of god, steer clear of this horribly horrible, inane, horrible film.


[Sean Iles]

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