Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: Book-to-Movie Review

Saturday, January 21, 2012


I read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer in January of 2011 and fell in love with it. I mentioned in my review that I was a little heartbroken about it being a movie because I just didn't think it could possibly compare to the experience of reading the book. Jason recently read (and loved) this as well, so we headed out to the movies last night to see it. To sum it up real quickly, this tells the story of a young boy, Oskar Schell, who struggles to cope in the aftermath of his father's death on September 11th. He finds a key in his father's closet and goes on a quest through all of New York City to find what the key is for. He does this in an attempt to find purpose, make sense of his father's death, and keep his father alive and with him in his mind and heart.

Right away it was evident that the film also used some techniques to portray some of the uniqueness of the book. It wasn't all the same, of course, but it was interesting how they did it. I'm not one of those people who ever notices (or cares for when I do notice) different filming techniques, but I did notice them in this movie and thought they were subtle enough and well done. Based on the reactions I heard from the other people watching throughout the movie, they invested in the characters and laughed at the parts that were funny. I didn't fall out sobbing like I thought I might (LOL), but there were definitely moments that made me cry.

One of the things I loved about the book was the raw emotion it evoked. I actually thought the movie did a great job of showing the intensity and complexity of Oskar's emotions as well as the difficulties in the relationship between him and his mother. But I might feel that way since I have more knowledge from reading the book. Jason said he read some reviews that talked about Oskar's character being a brat, and I think thought process misses the whole point of the complete anguish the child goes through after his father's death. The movie moves mostly chronologically but there are many moments when it goes back and shows a chronologically previous scene to explain something the character is thinking or referring to. There was one scene between Oskar and his mother, played by Sandra Bullock, that was pretty intense and evocative. That was probably the part that made me the most emotional because the relationship between the two of them is so fragile at a time when they really need each other. I do think this might be a difficult film to watch for people who did lose someone in the attacks on September 11th or for anyone who has lost a loved one recently.

The movie, of course, had to leave out some details and back story from the book. The book has sooo much more to love and I compel you to read it, especially if you're interested in the movie. But, I think the movie did a fantastic job at taking as many pieces of the book as possible and creating a way to get across the unique qualities of the book and the characters' emotions, and it followed the book very well. Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks, though secondary characters to Oskar, added a lot to the movie. I feel like I can still return the book and enjoy reading it again without being "interrupted" by things from the movie because it fit very well into what I pictured anyway.

16 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Interesting thoughts. I didn't get to the book but do plan to see the movie. I love how you say "fall out sobbing" - a great way to characterize something I do with some movies! :--)

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I'm glad to hear this. I want to read this book first before I see the movie. The preview looks so powerful but I remember you really loving the book. It's been on my list for so long. Thanks for sharing your insight into them both. :)

Sandy Nawrot said...

I saw the reviews of this movie were dismal, which really kinda broke my heart. Still you liked it, and my friend Marianne liked it, so that is good enough for me.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Oh wow. I've been wondering about this one. It sounds amazing. Great review. I'm so glad the film didn't let you down and I look forward to checking it out.

Tina~ said...

Geez! I've been following your blog forever and don't remember you reviewing this one...:/...I didn't even know this was a book! Im going to have to read it, because I for sure want to see the movie.

Great movie/book review Jenny!

Zibilee said...

I read the book and have wanted to see the movie, so I am glad to have read your perspective on it, and gotten some direct info on how you felt about it. It seems like I probably wouldn't leave the theater weeping, but perhaps would shed quite a few quiet tears! Great book-to-movie review today, Jenny!

bermudaonion said...

I was hoping to read the book before I saw the movie, but I don't think that's going to happen. I may see the movie this week. I'm so glad to know it's well done.

Meg @ A Bookish Affair said...

I have yet to read the book but I definitely want to before I see the movie!

christina said...

I'm about two-thirds finished with the book and I absolutely love Oskar. This book has been such an emotional roller coaster for me, without actually crying. Films tend to get to me quicker, so I imagine when I do end up seeing it (this coming weekend hopefully) I'll be bawling off and on.

Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I really want to read the book. I don't usually watch the movies after, but I'm glad that you thought it was well done.

Jenners said...

I imagine it would be a difficult book to adapt and it seems like the managed to pull it off. Like you said, there is so much more in the book. I'm glad the fragile relationship with between Oskar and his mom is captured though. That was critical in the book and the part that affected me the most.

softdrink said...

I just read the book this month, and while I liked it, I'm not that interested in seeing the movie. I'm usually pretty ambivalent about movies based on books.

Trish said...

You know how much I loved this one...but I'm just not sure I can watch the movie. My mom took my grandmother to see it this weekend and she told me my grandma SOBBED the entire movie. So sad. She also mentioned a lot of the back-story being left out, so we all talked about it at dinner (three of us having read the book) and we were all in tears. Geez. ;)

Aths said...

Oooh, now I really want to read the book! I just read another fabulous review of the book today, so now your comparison of the book and the movie only pushed it higher up my wishlist.

Kari said...

You're the second review of this book/movie I've read today (in my frantic attempt at catching up on blog reading/commenting)! As I said elsewhere earlier, my boyfriend constantly rails against Foer, especially this book, and I end up doing the same based on what he says, even though I've never read Foer. Now, I'm not confident I will like him and his gimmicks, but I'm increasingly thinking I should at least give it a chance so I can at least have my own opinion!

Garrett Smith said...

I just want to finish my book report. What's different between the novel and movie?

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