<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Stephen Daldry. Starring Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow, Viola Davis, John Goodman.
Based on some book and a tragic story of a family after 9/11, this film is irrelevant, irritating and devoid of any real storyline.
It’s been over 10 years since the World Trade Centre attack on 9/11 in America and they’re still making movies on the fall out. I’m not saying the repercussions weren’t important. I’m just saying this shameless milking of their most horrendous tragedy in history seems to be a tad late in the day. If this story had come out a year after the events, then it would have gotten a much better rating. As it stands, it could be any tragedy, befalling any family.
Little Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) and his father Thomas (Tom Hanks) are very close, going on little adventures and expeditions that daddy Hanks chalks out for the introverted Oskar to complete, in the process he encounters people to talk to so that he may overcome his shyness. Clues, maps and secret hiding places in Central Park are the world Oskar lives in. Until one day, evil men in planes crash into the World Trade Centre towers where his dad, a jeweller, is having a business meeting. Mom Linda (Sandra Bullock) and son are torn apart, with Oskar having to rely on his grandmother for support.
And then one day after Oskar, who has been psychologically affected by this tragedy – he won’t use public transport and is afraid of noises so he carries a tambourine to soothe himself – finds a key in his father’s closet with the only clue being the name Black. And he sets out to methodically find all the Black’s (last name, not African Americans) in New York who may know where the key belongs.
What are interesting and irritating about this film is Oskar and his mind. He’s intelligent to the point of knowing that his mom has been ‘in absentia’ and knowing facts about history, mathematics and geography. He is afraid of closed spaces but is surprisingly caring, offering to kiss a sad lady he meets in his search to find the lock to the key. Of course it’s metaphorical and is basically about his need to stay connected to his father and the games they would play. On the way he enlists the aid of his grandmother’s old, mute tenant (Max Von Sydow) who writes down his words on paper or uses ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ which are tattooed on the palms of each of his hands. Turns out he’s actually the boy’s grandfather who left his dad and grandmom a long time ago.
Okay, I didn’t want to give you the whole story, but it just came out because I’m trying to make sense of it all. What I got was this irritating kid, shouting and screaming and being a little ass, an old man using so much paper to write out his words that he must have destroyed a rainforest in the duration of his scenes in the film and a mom who couldn’t care less but at the end you find that she actually did but you couldn’t care less.
If the filmmakers are trying to say it’s the journey and not the destination then they wasted way too much time (ours) getting that across. The only saving grace is some of the witty writing by Eric Roth delivered nicely by young Thomas Horn, who will probably make a wonderful devil child Damien if ever they make another Omen movie.