Sunday, January 22, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

So I have eagerly been awaiting the release of the film, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, since I learned it was being filmed early last year. The movie is adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer's book about an 8 year old boy who loses his father in 911.  It is probably one of my all time favorite contemporary books. It truly is a shining star amongst new age literature, not only is it an artistic masterpiece, but it is able to transcend the page and truly speak to the soul. I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first read it, and that hasn't happened for me since the Great Gatsby in my high school literature class.

It was last year in early December, I was interviewing for residency and one of my best friends recommended that I pick up this book for my travels. She is a literary aficionado, who knows me well, thus I trusted her opinion. Let's just say, she is yet to steer me wrong. I couldn't put the book down. Doused with imagery, the book is complex and spoke multitudes to me. I was actually on a plane flight to Portland, OR for my interview when I finished the book. It was late, as I had taken a red eye flight,  I stayed up the entire flight reading it with tears streaming down my face.  A stewardess, who noted my tears, came up to me and asked if she could help me in any way, I just smiled and said through my sniffles and tears "It's just a really good book."

The premise of the book resides around a little boy whose father dies in the world trade center on 911. The boy to some may be odd, but his bond with his father is not misunderstood.  The boy stumbles upon a key in his father's closet after the "worst day,"which he feels is a sign from his father, as if he is  trying to tell him something. The rest of the book revolves around this boy's adventure to find the lock to this key. It is a beautiful portrayal of grief, loss, and the things we do to try to understand it all.

As I sat in the movie theater tonight I couldn't help but love every morsel of this film. From the cast, to the imagery, to the screen play. It was magnificent. The photo above is one of my favorite scenes in the entire film. Immersed in imagery it is a powerful moment in the film about stopping. As the film unfolded I couldn't help but be moved to tears while sitting in the theater. Perhaps, the movie has hit home more than I thought it would over the last year. You see the entire movie revolves around Oskar, the main character, trying to make sense of why his father was killed.  Yet he concludes it doesn't make sense. And I agree. I will never understand why the sky is blue instead of green, why bad things happen to good people, why tragedy strikes, why boys will break your heart,  why my timing is always off,  or why people suffer.

I know what it is like to ask yourself these questions over and over again. Contemplating if you did something wrong, wondering what you had done to deserve this sort of loss.  You try to hold on to anything, whether it is a search for a lock to a key, or just something that will bring you closer to the person you lost.  Yet, at the end of your search, you learn that you are not alone. That everyone is searching for answers, and sometimes there are no good explanations.

Through his pain and paralyzing grief, Oskar, found his strength. The same is true for us. Real life is full of joy, sorrow, and confusion. None of us are exempt. Yet, once you have lived through the unthinkable you learn how strong you truly are, the burden you can bare. You realize that life is precious, and can be altered in a minute or a mere phone call. Yet, without ruining the end of the book, I will say the  take home message of this movie is that life is worth the accumulation of all the joy, grief, mystery, and laughter this world has to offer, it's about being moved to tears, laughing until you cry, and loving someone with all your heart and hoping that someday you will be able make sense of it all.

So pretty please do yourself a favor, and go see this movie.--- You won't be disappointed.


Rachel said...

Actually you made me want to read the book! So going on my list. I struggle to find contemporary books I find as enriching as the classics we read in high school. If you recommend it, I must read.

Jen Pasko said...

Rachel, yes! This is definitely a must for your 7 weeks of nightfloat coming up. Get jazzed