365 High-Def Days of Oscar: Day 140

Release Year: 2011

Oscar Nominations:

Best Picture

Best Supporting Actor


A nine-year-old amateur inventor, Francophile, and pacifist searches New York City for the lock that matches a mysterious key left behind by his father, who died in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.


Oskar is a unique child, both in his abilities and inabilities. He was once thought to have Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, though his tests were inconclusive. Regardless, he is a special boy with an imagination as lofty as lofty as his determination to find the elusive key hole for his father. With the help of his grandmother, grandmother’s renter, and the entire city of New York, Oskar journeys out into the unknown, hoping to come across the owner of the said key hole, but more so to find out where his father’s final game will take him.

The biggest problem here is a combination of two things: firstly using 9/11 as a basis for a film is not unusual (see World Trade Centre et al), but rather than as a mere backdrop, it explicitly tries to evoke horrendous memories relating to that day, rather than create an independent story. Through conversation or flashback we are constantly reminded of September 11th and how relentless it was – as if we didn’t know.

The second flaw is the way Oskar is portrayed. An effort to create a naive, fragile soul that has mental health issues as well as trauma complexities is a difficult task, and fails to work on the basis that we are encouraged to sympathise: one moment, a poignantly articulate narrator gradually begins to generate some audience engagement, but is instantly banished when the obnoxiousness of a foul-mouthed brat rears his head. Little annoyances build up; for example, when he embarks on a 25th Hour style monologue that feels like it goes on for all eternity, and then some.

The Blu-Ray comes with a strong 1080p transfer, but the DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track leaves a lot to be desired. The featurettes are pretty extensive, but the real gem of the pack is the documentary that Max von Sydow shot on set. The DVD and Digital Copy help to make this a mobile presentation across all devices. That being said, I’m getting a little tired of Warner Brothers trying to set an outrageous price point for sell-through discs and not even putting that much effort into it. I’d recommend a rental to most, purchase to fans.


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