I watched this film tonight and I was blown away. I basically watched it because I was in a weird mood and nothing productive was going to happen but I was unprepared for how emotional it was going to be,
Oskar is the sort of character that should be extremely annoying but he manages not to be. As I haven’t yet read the book (though I will soon now!) I don’t know if it’s more down to the character or Thomas Horn’s commendable young acting, but I haven’t felt so sympathetic towards a young character in a film for a long time. Whether he has Asperger’s syndrome or not (his test was “inconclusive”), his insistence that things be done a certain way and his fears that surround him in New York City made me want to comfort and reassure him constantly, rather like the huggy man he visited.
Ultimately, it is his family’s plight, his father’s death in the World Trade Center, that makes this film so heartbreaking. Oskar heard six answerphone messages from his father immediately before he died, and indeed was too scared by his aforementioned crippling fears to answer the final call before seeing the tower collapse on TV. How he manages to live with this as well as he does is beyond me, but when it all comes pouring out it can barely be stopped. The only thing potentially worse than this to watch are the confrontations with his mother, who is rightly as devastated as he is and is still protective of him, but they are just not communicating in the right way anymore; at least Oskar finds out eventually that his mother can talk in his way almost as well as his father could.
I think what is most awful about this film is the fact that this could happen to any family, and it did in real life. It is impossible to watch this film and not think “what if that was my dad?” and count yourself scores luckier than you did an hour before. I don’t mean this to sound depressing- in fact, I laughed out loud at least twice during the film, thanks to Oskar wearing a gas mask on the subway, and John Goodman.
As soon as I’ve finished the other books I’ve got on the go, I can’t wait to immerse myself in this story once more (as foolishly self-inflicting as that may be).