As I mentioned in my last post, I just finished reading Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. It was brilliant. So now I’m finding myself unduly frustrated with people I know who have seen the movie and haven’t read the book. The reason is that the book is amazing. It might be one of the greatest works of literary art of its time. You can go through the motions on screen and show this kid knocking on a bunch of doors, but I don’t think it’s possible to capture the mood of the book or the author’s extreme delicacy and attention to detail. It’s such a moving novel, and it’s most wonderful features have been hacked out of the film. Frankly, I think making this novel into a film was a poor choice.
So I take issue with the screen adaptation. (I don’t do that with every book-to-screen adaptation, e.g. The Lord of the Rings, Cold Mountain,The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.) Another problem I have with this adaptation is that I think it’s too soon to show footage of the Towers in this fictional setting. Most of us experienced 9/11 through video footage and those images are embedded in our minds. I don’t think those scenes should be incorporated into fictional movies yet. I know there have been a few other movies about 9/11 already, but I don’t want to see them, and I’m not happy people have made money from them.
I can read a book about 9/11 and mostly because I didn’t experience that day by flipping through pages. A book is a different medium, and it’s a medium that gives the audience more control. I don’t expect to finish reading a book in one sitting, so putting it down when I can’t handle what’s happening is easy. Pausing to think about what it’s saying is natural.
In some ways, I’m coming up with reasons to defend my gut reaction, but I think anyone who’s read the book and knows some of the inconsistencies present in the movie (like Mr. Black being absent!) will agree that the movie is kind of a sham. And really, it only got 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. Something’s gone wrong.
Here’s Rotten Tomatoes’ description:
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close has a story worth telling, but it deserves better than the treacly and pretentious treatment director Stephen Daldry gives it.
So maybe I haven’t given the movie a chance. That’s OK with me. The book is just so good that I don’t need to give the movie a chance. I won’t refuse to see it, but I’m not going to go out of my way to see it either.