Saturday, 17 March 2012
I think Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is what one might call a “Marmite” film, from the reviews I have read people either love it or hate it. People with experience of Aspergers seem to like the film whereas many professional reviewers, like the Daily Mail’s Christopher Tookey found the main character, Oscar, unbelievably irritating.
Personally, I felt inclined to wonder whether the director had not made Oscar’s Aspergers traits too understated. Ok, perhaps not really, but his behaviour was entirely consistent with a young boy on the spectrum who had the benefit of committed, and enlightened parents who had activgely helped him address his difficulties. Oscar’s use of a tambourine to calm himself has received adverse comment, but I’m inclined to the opinion that it’s perfectly normal, for me it’s yoyos. The self harming, again normal, although personally I am a biter rather than a pincher. The systematic structuring of his search, normal and sensible, with an admirable attention to detail. Some reviewers considered Oscar to be rude, but I found him rather polite and considerate. Oscar says his test for Aspergers was inconclusive, this must be because of his ability to interact with others, although he found it difficult ; again the constructive influence of his father may be a factor. Oscar’s attitude to lying and his ultimate inability to successfully dissemble rings very true, we can lie, but rarely convincingly.
This film is primarily about how people relate to each other and particularly, of course, to Oscar. What becomes very obvious it’s that in every relationship there are depths that are not obvious, and that as an observer it is impossible to fathom human behaviour, or is that just me? By the end of the film many of our opinions of the characters with which we started are changed, and neither the story nor the journey is what we thought it was.
Not being American much of the significance of 9/11 is lost on me, and I’m inclined to the opinion the film would have been equally true, and equally powerful however Oscar’s father had died. Regardless of the opinions of the critics I thought this film not only portrayed Aspergers well, but was also an engaging and thought provoking look at human relationships and behaviour, or to put it another way, I enjoyed it.