Essential plot rundown: Young Oskar searches all over NYC for a lock in an attempt to keep his deceased father near to him. I left this movie with mixed feelings. Some parts were really good and others not so much.
Let's start with the bad to get that out of the way. Oskar has this game that he plays with his dad called "reconnaissance". This game plays an important role in the film. However, I never quite understand exactly what it was. The boy was suppose go find stuff and talk to people. Maybe I missed something but I was just kind of confused over the whole thing.
Another thing that bothered me was Max von Sydow's character. Now I thought that he did a good job and that the character was interesting. But nothing really happens with him. His character didn't really add to the plot. I was expecting some kind of closure or growth or something. But no, nothing comes to fruition. He's just kind of there, writing things down.
Also, the kid was kind of a dick, for lack of a better word. At first I thought he was mean because he was grieving the loss of his father. But I remembered that there were scenes where he was a jerk before his dad died.
The last thing was his first encounter on his journey. Oskar meets this lady, she tells him to leave, he says he's thirsty, she lets him in and starts crying. The whole scene felt awkward. And I never understood why she started crying. I was expecting her to know something about his dad. But no. She's just under a lot of stress I guess. And those were really the only things that bothered me.
Now, let's keep on truckin' with the good. I really liked the acting. I thought everybody did a good job. This was Thomas Horn's (Oskar) first role. And he handled it pretty well. There were a couple of parts that were weak but in all, he was pretty good. During the film, I could really feel Oskar's lost. Even though he was a jerk, I couldn't help but feel bad for him. His pain and struggles were obvious. You could just tell his was hurt by what happened.
I thought the emotional scenes were well executed. There were a couple of powerful scenes between Oskar and his mother and between him and some other characters. These parts kind of cut deep and were a little hard to watch. There were multiple occasions where there were tears running down my cheeks.
The different themes in the movie were also powerful. There was the obvious one of dealing with loss. In the movie, Oskar gives the example of how, if the sun exploded, we wouldn't know for 8 minutes. He compared that to his dad, and that by looking for the lock to his key, he was trying to extend his 8 minutes with his father. There was another theme that wasn't revealed towards the end. And that is the theme of a mother's love. Linda (Sandra Bullock) tells her son that she was "searching for him". And I could totally feel how, as he distanced himself from her, she went looking for him.
Finally, I liked the cinematography. I don't know if there is a specific name for them, but there were some really cool optical effects that helped augment the emotion of the film.
So, overall, I liked it, but not as much as I wanted to. The powerful emotions just quite don't make up for what's lacking in script and plot. But I would say watch it. But there's no rush.
But that's just my opinion...