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Young Actor Carries 9/11 Story

January 20, 2012

An actor can take over a movie so thoroughly, with a personality of such magnetism, that we forget the skepticism and questions the script leaves in its wake. That happens in "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," where Thomas Horn delivers the finest leading performance I saw in a movie made in 2011.

He was 12 years old when he did it. He had never stood in front of a camera on a professional production, except for a kids' version of "Jeopardy!" Yet he gets so deeply into the whirling mind of Oskar Schell, dominating every scene he's in - which is almost every scene, period - that he lifts the movie out of the realm of "Forrest Gump"-like emotional manipulation.

Eric Roth, who adapted the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, also wrote "Gump." The stories start from the same place: A sweet, sensitive young man being raised by a single mom realizes he can't function as "normal" people do and tries to find a way to use his talents productively. (By coincidence - or is it? - Tom Hanks appears in both, here playing Oskar's dad.) Read More